Continuing to press its assault on Qantas, Virgin Australia will move the majority of its trans-continental flights to internationally-configured A330 widebodies while offering passengers free meals, drinks and in-flight entertainment.
The changes, due to take effect on September 26, will bring Virgin services in line with Qantas on the fast-growing Perth routes. Virgin, which had previously charged for food, drinks and entertainment, said the upgrade would not affect ticket prices.
“Enhancing the travel experience from the East Coast to Perth is an important part of our strategy to become the airline of choice in Australia,” said Merren McArthur, Virgin’s executive for Alliances, Network and Yield.
The changes will see Virgin move all five of its daily Melbourne-Perth services to A330 aircraft. Currently it flies twice daily aboard A330s, with the remaining three flights on Boeing 737-800s. Virgin said it would continue to fly three of its four daily Sydney-Perth services aboard A330s.
Brisbane-Perth services, meanwhile, will be increased from two to three per day aboard 737-800s equipped with Virgin’s new business class cabin.
Virgin expects to introduce its fifth A330-200 into service earlier in September, paving the way for the upgrade. The carrier has taken delivery of a pair of new A330-200s this year in addition to two ex Emirates machines. The aircraft, Virgin’s domestic flagship, feature 24 lie-flat business class seats and 255 economy class seats.
Buoyed by the mining boom, Perth has emerged as Australia’s fastest growing airport, with passenger numbers up by nearly 10 per cent last year as east coast airport reported flat or negative growth.