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Virgin’s Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights to return from September following 777 cabin upgrades

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 5, 2016
Etihad-Virgin-Australia
Australia’s competition regulator reauthorised the Virgin Australia-Etihad alliance for a further five years in December 2015.

Virgin Australia has scheduled a resumption of its Sydney-Abu Dhabi service at the start of September, signalling that the cabin upgrades on its Boeing 777-300ERs will be completed in less than two months.

The return of Virgin’s Abu Dhabi flights was flagged in a note to travel agents, which said passengers booked on either VA29 to Abu Dhabi or reciprocal VA30 to Sydney between August 9 and 30 would be transferred to alliance partner Etihad Airways’ services.

Virgin suspended its three times weekly offering to the United Arab Emirates capital at the start of February in order to reconfigure its 777s with new business class and refreshed premium economy cabins, as well as an extra legroom economy section called Space +. Etihad flies 11 times a week between Sydney and Abu Dhabi with a mix of Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 equipment.

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So far, three of Virgin’s five 777s have been refitted, with the installation work undertaken at Chennault International Airport in Louisiana.

Flights featuring the new on-board product began on April 30, when VH-VPD operated the VA2 from Los Angeles to Sydney. Since then, VH-VPF and VH-VPH have also completed the on-board upgrades.

The first Virgin service to Abu Dhabi following the completion of the reconfiguration program was scheduled for Thursday September 1, with VA29 to depart Sydney at 1435, according to the Virgin website.

However, Virgin planned to again suspend Sydney-Abu Dhabi operations two months later due to maintenance.

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“Virgin Australia wishes to advise trade partners due to heavy maintenance on our Boeing 777 fleet, Virgin Australia will suspend services to Abu Dhabi for Virgin Australia operated flights to/from Sydney and Abu Dhabi from 2 November through to 19 November 2016 (inclusive),” Virgin said in a separate note to travel agents.

“The last scheduled Virgin Australia commercial service prior to the maintenance will be VA29 SYD-AUH on Tuesday 1 November 2016, with the first service post the maintenance scheduled to be VA30 AUH-SYD on Monday 21 November 2016.”

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5 Comments

  • Joe

    says:

    spending millions on a route that is not very profitable.

    Whats next……. ?_?

  • Yusef Danet

    says:

    There’s a good chance that the unloved fifth 777 will be put to work on the Syd-Hkg route. There’s a possible LAX-SYD-HKG-SYD-LAX-BNE etc line. That would leave AUH for a consistent EY offering.

  • Craigy

    says:

    Virgin have previously stated that the Beijing and Hong Kong services will be provided using the A332.

  • Robert Harker

    says:

    The airline when it was known as V Australia used a B777 to run between Sydney and Phuket, this was axed as soon as JB joined the airline as it was deemed an non profitable route. I cannot comment on SYD-AUH, but running a 777 between Sydney and HKG seems a good idea, its a big jet to fly that kind of distance, but when you compare other airlines using the B777 like Emirates, they fly these into short haul routes like DXB-RUH. Its possible, but only of passenger demand is evident or freight uplift deems it a profitable route to use such a jet.

    Also, I dont think VA have ever announced HKG have they? I have only seen China, Beijing.

  • k lane

    says:

    Agree with general sentiment – more good money appears to be spend on less than optimal routings

    Virgin – flog off your 777-300’s to Air New Zealand ( they know how to make sustainable profits on longhaul )

    Concentrate on short / med haul international only
    shore up your domestic market in the process

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