Borghetti flags two to three new international routes within three years

written by Gerard Frawley | October 29, 2014
Could Virgin Australia soon operate the A330 on international routes? (Rob Finlayson)
Could Virgin Australia soon operate the A330 on international routes? (Rob Finlayson)

Virgin Australia will add two or three new international destinations to its route network within three years, the airline’s chief executive John Borghetti has revealed.

“You wlll see us fly to more international destinations over the next three years,” Borghetti told the Tourism and Transport Forum’s Leadership summit in Canberra on Wednesday.

“Two [destinations], maybe three, certainly two, but obviously we are not going to talk about that at this stage,” Borghetti said in response to a question about when Virgin would expand its international network.

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Virgin today operates a limited long-haul network flying five Boeing 777-300ERs between Sydney and Abu Dhabi and from Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles. The airline also has short-haul international flying with 737-800s to Bali, Phuket, Pacific Island destinations and on the trans-Tasman.

It has long been speculated that Virgin would look to expand its long-haul international network into Asia, but that would require adding additional widebody aircraft to its fleet, or redeploying the 777s or the six Airbus A330-200s currently used on the important transcontinental domestic market.

The Virgin Australia boss has previously said the airline is in “no rush” to acquire new widebody aircraft types such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350, or the airline could take some of the 199 widebody aircraft ordered by alliance partner and shareholder Etihad Airways late last year, in a deal which gave the Abu Dhabi-based carrier the “capacity to redirect orders” to airlines in which it holds equity stakes.

More likely though, to meet an in-service date within three years, Virgin Australia could add incremental A330 units to its fleet. Last month Virgin revealed a new business class fully flat sleeper seat which will be refitted to its A330 fleet as well as its long-haul 777s.

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Borghetti said Virgin would take a measured approach to any international expansion.

“Without giving too much away, there are three basic building blocks to running an international airline,” he said.

“The first is you have got to have a strong presence in your home market and to do that you have to have a good solid base on your domestic network … which we now have.

“The second is to try and establish your brand, in a minor way at least, in as many destinations as you can in new markets, and we’ve been doing that now for the last three or four years through the four alliance partners that we have.

“The third element is, OK, we’ve got a base, we’ve started to get recognition, people know who we are, now let’s start going into new destinations.

“However, caution, many international airlines lose many many millions of dollars moving too fast, and we’re not going to fall for that trick.”

He also reiterated that Tigerair Australia will soon fly short-haul international routes as well.

“Importantly it [the 100 per cent acquisition of Tigerair Australia] will also open up new opportunities in short-haul international markets,” Borghetti told the TTF forum.

“Now that we have secured the licence rights for Tigerair to fly short-haul international you will see that happen over the next couple of years.”

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7 Comments

  • J.H

    says:

    I hope virgin flies to more international destinations

  • Mark

    says:

    Is there likely to be sufficient demand for VA A330 operations on say Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan routes given Qantas and other operators current services?

  • OzFlyGuy

    says:

    I’d place a Tom Waterhouse bet that Hong Kong is on the agenda, to replace the recently vacated Virgin Atlantic route between Sydney and Hong Kong. Makes sense; VA to HKG and VS from HKG to LHR.

    Adding to this perhaps MEL-HKG to meet up with VS. 3rd and final route might be BNE-HKG.

    Wishful thinking perhaps, but I’d support all three……

  • Tyman88

    says:

    International would be on the A330 not enough 777’s to cover another route.

    I’d take a shot in the dark and maybe something out of Canberra… Cairns… Perth or Brisbane. Hong Kong yes but remember Virgin is chasing the J-Class market $$$$$. No where scoot or another LCC flies in direct competition with.

    My guess India, China, Japan, Maldives or Malaysia A330, 777 be Canada, South America.

    CBR- SIN, I put money on. A international airport not busy and brand new terminal with domestic connections and syd only 40min away. $7500 business class then end up on a atr haha

    Wish they do PER-LHR, then domestic PER-AYQ-SYD on 737 of course, tourist route perfect.

  • Ben

    says:

    Please add some perth routes, I think we must b one of the only countries in the world where it’s national carrier refuses to fly any international routes out of one of its largest cities. I would love to fly out on an australian carrier and arrive home on one. VA make it happen, QF def won’t

  • Ben

    says:

    My money would be on routes that QF is not on, or has recently vacated… like PER-SIN or ADL-HKG. VA should be taking full advantage of cities that QF international has departed.

  • Stuart Lawrence

    says:

    What about this for a few routes CBR to DPS or new zealand cities and suva and NAN i in Fiji. Maybe to HKG and SFO and connect with Virgin Atlantic flight to LHR and Virgin America routes out of SFO. A few routes out of Perth to Hongkong and Singapore would work well

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