Virgin Australia to reduce Los Angeles flights as 777s undergo maintenance checks

A file image of a Virgin Australia Boeing 777-300ER at Los Angeles Airport.
A file image of a Virgin Australia Boeing 777-300ER at Los Angeles Airport.

Virgin Australia will offer a reduced schedule on its flights from Australia to Los Angeles in late 2017 and early 2018 as its Boeing 777-300ERs undergo scheduled maintenance.

There will be three fewer flights a week under the temporary schedule which will be on operation during a two-month period from October 17 to December 5 2017, and again from February 2 to March 23 2018.

The airline’s daily VA1/2 Sydney-Los Angeles rotation will be cut to five flights a week, while the VA23/24 Melbourne-Los Angeles will drop to four flights per week, compared with five currently. Brisbane-Los Angeles will remain at six flights a week, Virgin said on Thursday.

“We have had to cancel some Los Angeles flights as heavy maintenance is required on our Boeing 777 aircraft fleet,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Aviation in an emailed statement.

“We have worked to minimise the disruption to our customers and will be in touch with those affected to provide reaccommodation options.”

Virgin Australia’s trans-Pacific alliance partner Delta Air Lines operates a daily Sydney-Los Angeles service with Boeing 777-200LR equipment.

Virgin Australia’s fleet of five 777-300ER widebodies are deployed only on flights between Australia and Los Angeles.

In previous years, the airline opted to cancel its three times weekly flight to Abu Dhabi when its big Boeing twins were due for extended maintenance checks or when undergoing cabin upgrades. However, that is no longer an option since Virgin Australia dropped Sydney-Abu Dhabi 777-300ER flights in February 2017.


  1. Trash Hauler says

    This on again, off again LA service is getting ridiculous. The competition must be loving this

  2. Roger says

    At least airlines like SIA that only use/d their A340-500s/A350-900ULRs have spares. Surely VA could have substituted a few 737 MAX8 orders for an additional 77W if they were determined to offer year-round service on the routes?

  3. Craig says

    Why dont they borrow aircraft from their partners or isnt it time they got more aircraft if they want to compete with opposition on international routes

  4. Roman says

    It may be getting ridiculous but they still have the best seats across the pacific in both Economy and Business.

  5. Brad says

    It’s a pity EY or SQ couldn’t free up a 77W from their fleets over this period. With the slowdown in the ME, I’d have thought EY would’ve probably liked the chance.

  6. Ian Morris says

    Another example of Virgin Australia being a tin-pot operation… it surely cannot be that hard to hire in an aircraft for a period to cover the heavy maintenance of their 777 fleet? They really come across badly as Ansett Mark 2 in terms of where they are heading…

  7. Rod Pickin says

    The good news is that the A/C shortfall has been identified now; the bad news is that it should have been identified and catered for twelve months ago. What concerns me though is that whilst Mahogany Row clearly lacks forward planning abilities I am convinced that someone down the payscale within the airline ops. division knew about this and either didn’t or wouldn’t dare raise the issue with more senior staff. What was the flight manager 777 and his/her group doing? Not a good look chaps

  8. Alex says

    VA are a great airline, however with respect, they seriously need to consider adopting a thorough review of their network planning operation. They announce new routes which never start. They start routes and pull off and with their recent arrival onto the HKG route, you would think that they only recently discovered Asia’s opportunity. The A330s don’t have Premium Economy, creating a mixed International experience. Please order some more aircraft for your excellent International services. Oil prices are still low. You’ve had shareholder investment. Get it done. I can’t see how having 4 airline shareholder “partners” works long term and I hope that eventually you will be purchased outright when rules allow

  9. Adrian P says

    When the aircraft with carbon fibre hulls reach their end of life, will they end up in land fill?
    Or will they be recycled?

  10. Craigy says

    The advantage of bigger international airlines is that they have operational spares in their fleet so when an aircraft is out for maintenance, then they have the airframes to cover the timetable. Virgins balance sheet is such at the moment it can’t afford to purchase new airframes to expand the fleet. One reason why the B737 max was delayed until 18/19 Financial Year (I think the financial year is right.) The investment by it airline shareholders has been used to pay down debt and build their cash balance.

    Virgin are in a similar position to Qantas a few years ago where the balance sheet was such that the B789 order had to be cancelled and capex reduced. Now Qantas are able to expand because of favourable financial position, agreement from the pilots union on salary etc for B789 and a greatly reduced cost base.

  11. deano says

    VA say that they are about fleet simplification
    They run 6 x 330s and 5 x 777s
    777s would fit well into Hong Kong, so why they can’t offload their 330s and pick up some used 777s is beyond me….
    It would address their current issue and knock out 1 more type

  12. Clarissa says

    Great airline run by some not so great managers who aim for mediocracy. Virgin needs to hire the right talent who can forward plan.

  13. JR says

    Yeah I agree with Deano. Or if the 777s are too big then the latest 330s actually have trans-pacific range at least from Sydney and Brisbane to LA (not sure about Melbourne). They need to get their act together. I’m starting to get the uneasy feeling I had when flying Ansett in the late 90s.

  14. Rob Blunt says

    This is typical of management that STRETCH the maintenance out for a/c so they can make a profit before cancelling flights at a convenient time; Problem is, its coming to holiday season, so they once again will be missing out. Typical Management FAIL, but DONT WORRY……. The CEO and and high management will get PAY RISES!!!!
    Crisis averted! Lol

  15. Alex says

    The VA 777 go to maintenance this time of year every year as it it the quietest time so it is nothing new and is planned months before the public know also to the people that think the VA 330 can fly Bne-lax non stop it would either have to game pax only or half half which would be a smart money unless they stopped to Hawaii for 24 hours which would cost to much money in hotels for the pax. Untill Virgin starts making a profit it will not change also VA are unable to use partner planes as they need to be australian registered and the crew are not trained to work on it. As every aircraft is different.

  16. Martin Clementson says

    Sad to see such poor planning. Other airlines can arrange alternatives, but not VA.

  17. James says

    It’s low season! !!!

    Fiji airways direct flights syd lax have been selling for $799 return & stll they can’t fill aircraft & fiji air are a fantastic airline-better than qantarse but that wouldn’t be hard. Virgin could have easily found a replacement aircraft but why bother when the massive recession we had to have is starting to kick in.

  18. Ben says

    Have to agree with most of these comments in particular @Ian. I don’t understand why VA can’t wet lease some capacity to ensure a seamless continuation of its schedule. I recently flew to PNG and even Air Niugini can manage such a task – they had contracted euroAtlantic to perform their Brisbane-PM flights whilst their 767 was undergoing maintenance….

  19. Freddie says

    Yes to all of the above. Despite which aircraft is doing what it high lights just how inefficient Virgin are in their management department for everything. Their forward planning in all departments leaves a lot to be desired let alone their daily operation. Heaven forbid if they have a disrupt………..

  20. Craigy says

    This maintenance period would have been in the planning for 12 months or more. If the passengers are flexible enough to move to other flights which fills aircraft during the low season then that is a good outcome for Virgin. It’s a pity the planned timetable changes, if available earlier, were not put into the timetabling system so ‘guests’ could make an informed decision at the time of booking.