Virgin Australia resumes long-haul operations from Melbourne

Virgin Australia celebrating the resumption of MEL-LAX nonstop flights. (Virgin Australia)
Virgin Australia celebrating the resumption of MEL-LAX nonstop flights. (Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia has reopened its long-haul base at Melbourne Tullamarine with the resumption of nonstop flights to Los Angeles.

Flight VA23, operated by Boeing 777-300ER VH-VPF, took off from Melbourne at about 1145 local time on Tuesday and was scheduled to land at Los Angeles Airport about 14 hours later.

Virgin consolidated its long-haul Boeing 777-300ER flying to Brisbane and Sydney in October 2014 when it withdrew from the Melbourne-Los Angeles route.

At the time, Virgin said the decision to drop Melbourne-LA was made in order to boost its Brisbane-LA service to daily. Its withdrawal coincided with the arrival of United on the route.

However, in September 2016 the airline announced a shakeup of its long-haul network that included a five-times weekly Melbourne-Los Angeles service, as well as a reduction of Brisbane-Los Angeles from daily to six times weekly.

There will also be a schedule change on one Brisbane-Los Angeles-Brisbane rotation a week, which will be an evening departure from Brisbane and a morning departure from Los Angeles. That change, as well as ending the three times weekly Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights in February 2017, helped free up the extra flying time on its five 777-300ERs required to return to the Melbourne-Los Angeles route.

With Melbourne-Los Angeles underway, Virgin and its joint-venture partner Delta Air Lines now offer 25 flights a week from Australia to Los Angeles. Further, it is the only alliance to guarantee direct aisle access and lie-flat beds for every passenger in business class, regardless of airline, route or aircraft type.

“We are delighted to commence services between Melbourne and Los Angeles today, bringing the Virgin Australia flair and sophistication to this route,” Virgin Australia group executive for airlines John Thomas said.

Qantas and United are the other two carriers offering nonstop flights on Melbourne-Los Angeles.

There will be further Virgin Australia long-haul flying out of Melbourne from July 5, when the airline mounts nonstop flights from the Victorian capital to Hong Kong with Airbus A330-200 equipment in partnership with HNA Group.

Virgin Australia’s international network (which apart from Los Angeles also includes South Pacific, trans-Tasman and Bali flying) posted underlying earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $800,000 for the six months to December 31 2016, representing a return into the black following a $30.8 million underlying EBIT loss in the prior corresponding period.

Virgin Australia group executive for airlines John Thomas and singer Dannii Minogue celebrate the resumption of MEL-LAX flights. (Virgin Australia/Facebook)
Virgin Australia group executive for airlines John Thomas and singer Dannii Minogue celebrate the resumption of MEL-LAX flights. (Virgin Australia/Facebook)

Comments

  1. Lechuga says

    Great return. Shouldn’t have left, bit oh well. They’re back and that’s all that matters.

  2. JR says

    Sorry but that “celebration” looks a bit sad and embarrassing. There are 8 people, including Danni Minogue.. No expense spared?

  3. Colin of the North says

    Congrats to Virgin on their return to LA from Melb.
    Now if only an airline would do a direct Melbourne to Vancouver.
    AC does it from Brisbane, why not Melb? usuing the same equipment (788)

  4. Scott says

    Fantastic, great aircraft and a great product.
    Wish Virgin well, should shake up the big two again.

  5. Rocket says

    When they pulled out last time was accompanied by lamenting the number of competitors ex MEL, QF is twice daily I believe and you’ve also got NZ with connections over AKL and UA too. The line I believe in the media was that the aircraft could be better deployed by going daily ex SYD and BNE where there are less competitors (or at least ex SYD, one of them – DL – is their partner). This was the sum of the reasoning given.
    So… what’s changed??? Nothing at all. So the previous excuse was either manufactured and there was another reason, or the strategy (since they have no more 777s than back then) obviously failed and they decided to give MEL another go.
    Really, is there anything this company does that doesn’t smack of clutching at straws and changing direction more often and in a more contradictory fashion than a dodgem car???

  6. Dale says

    Unfortunately AC is only allowed two ports in Australia. The air agreement would require amending to add MEL.