Virgin to resume SYD-AUH route after finishing 777 refurbs

written by | August 30, 2016
A Virgin Australia 777 used for international services.
Virgin Australia’s five 777-300ER fly to Los Angeles from Sydney and Brisbane, as well as between Abu Dhabi and Sydney.

Virgin Australia has completed the refurbishment of its five Boeing 777-300ERs with new business class seats, a refreshed premium economy cabin and upgraded inflight entertainment system throughout the aircraft.

The final 777 to undergo the cabin refits at Chennault International Airport at Lake Charles, Louisiana, VH-VOZ, was ferried to Abu Dhabi International Airport on Sunday August 28 (local time), according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

Having a fifth 777 back in service allows Virgin to resume its three times a week Sydney-Abu Dhabi service, with VH-VOZ scheduled to depart from the United Arab Emirates capital as the VA30 bound for Sydney on Wednesday August 31.

The seat map on Virgin Australia's reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER. (Virgin Australia)
The seat map on Virgin Australia’s reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER. (Virgin Australia)

The Sydney-Abu Dhabi route has been suspended since February as Virgin installed 37 B/E Aerospace Super Diamond reverse herringbone seats that the Australian carrier has dubbed “The Business”, a bespoke bar that is attended by cabin crew and a refreshed, intimate 24‐seat premium economy cabin. Further, the Panasonic inflight entertainment system has been updated with a new user interface and more content for all classes.

The airline also added extra‐legroom Economy Space+ seats, featuring the five rows of the main cabin, where they are set at 34in pitch, as well as the exit rows.

Overall, the changes have resulted in a reduction of 22 seats on board Virgin’s 777s, from 361 seats under the old configuration to 339 under the new configuration. The aircraft flies to Los Angeles from Brisbane and Sydney, as well as on the Sydney-Abu Dhabi route.

The first reconfigured 777, VH-VPD, commenced flying on April 30, with each aircraft spending about 30 days in the maintenance hangar for the work to be completed by AAR Corp, a maintenance, repair and overhaul and aviation services firm.


Meanwhile, Virgin said on Tuesday the Economy Space+ concept has also been rolled out across its domestic and short-haul international network, replacing what was previously marketed as “Extra Legroom” seats.

Virgin said in a statement Economy Space+ seats were located in exit rows of the airline’s Airbus A330-200s, Boeing 737-800s, Embraer E190s, and Fokker 100s, while they were in the first row of its ATR-72 turboprops.

The seats were available as a buy up from an economy ticket, with prices starting at $10 for domestic flights and $50 for international flights, Virgin said. Depending on the flight, passengers would also receive some additional perks such as dedicated checkin counters and preferential access to overhead lockers, among other benefits.

Virgin said in May an Economy Space+ seat on the 777-300ERs would be between $135 and $165 per sector.

“We are committed to providing our guests with more choice and comfort when flying with Virgin Australia,” chief commercial officer Judith Crompton said in a statement.

“We believe Economy Space+ provides great value and will be very popular with travellers in the main cabin.”

(Read more about Virgin’s 777 cabin reconfiguration in the September issue of Australian Aviation, on sale now in newsagents and online).

John Borghetti launching the new business at Los Angeles Airport.
Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti launching the new business class at Los Angeles Airport on July 20. (Jordan Chong)
Virgin Australia's new business class, now flying on its 777 fleet. (Virgin Australia)
Virgin Australia’s new business class, now flying on its 777 fleet. (Virgin Australia)
The bar and lounge on Virgin Australia's Boeing 777-300ERs. (Virgin Australia)
The bar and lounge on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ERs. (Virgin Australia)

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  • Marc


    Why not just run an island bar down the entire length of a plane with a sushi train going around the middle?

  • Stu Bee


    @Marc That would only have been possible in the ‘Virgin Blue’ days, there’s no room for that sort of fun at VA

  • Craigy


    I don’t see the point in VA flying to Abu Dhabi 3 times a week. Given the capacity deployed on the Hong Kong route by Qantas suggests there is solid demand and the B77W would be a good fit. The A332 could be utilised on other new routes

  • Mike


    Run the 777 to HKG!, or at least, ditch SYD-AUH and run a 777 service from BNE, SYD and MEL to LAX.
    Can anyone convince us why AUH is of any use?

  • Pete


    Quit complaining & just be grateful that VA didn’t change their economy to 10 across like a lot of long haul carriers are doing these days.

  • Doug Bell


    I would have thought that Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Kong meeting the Virgin Atlantic London connection would have had a far better marketing/ corporate decision? well they need to get 3 more aircraft and enter into markets that Qanaras has ditched in recent years, ie Sydney/India, just a thought!

  • franz chong


    They should bring back the Virgin Australia Sydney to Hong Kong connections.I have not done that trip as such but it would give the Qantas and Cathay Pacific people back their extra competition something that hasn’t even if we exclude the Virgin Atlantic days for a minute on that sector been seen since Ansett were on it from 1994 to 2001.

  • Ray Robinson


    Bar looks impressive. Corners on outside “table” could be a hazard when turbulence strikes.

  • So Excuse Me VH – AUH Stands For Abu Dhabi Airport ?


  • Ben


    I actually quite like the look of it. I agree with Pete – It’s good that they’re not converting to 10 abreast in economy. I understand why they’re going to AUH due to their codesharing with Etihad. Also in competing with QF it makes sense to compete as directly as possible with the QF1 route to LHR via DXB. However as they’re not going all the way to London on their own metal, putting a service just to AUH kind of seems pointless. If I were VA I’d be developing a point of difference with QF and go to HKG instead, as other comments have suggested. It would make sense If they were to codeshare with Virgin Atlantic on HKG-LHR. Also SYD-HKG-LHR is overall probably the shortest one-stop flightpath to get to London. Also it’s very close to the great circle flightpath of a SYD-LHR non stop flight – Certainly a lot shorter than going via the Middle East.

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