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Virgin responds to Qantas by doubling capacity in July

written by Adam Thorn | June 11, 2020

Virgin Australia grounded due to COVID-19 (VH-YIT) Aidan Pullino
A grounded Virgin Australia 737-8FE, VH-YIT, in Adelaide (Aidan Pullino)

The return of domestic aviation in Australia received another huge boost on Thursday after Virgin announced it’s set to double its current capacity in July.

The airline will add 30,000 seats across 320 flights and will include interstate services to Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – despite border closures.

The move will allow some stood-down workers to return and comes days after the Qantas Group announced it would add 300 more return flights per week. You can view the new network in full here.

Virgin Australia’s chief commercial officer, John MacLeod, said, “It’s early days but these services will be a welcome boost to Australia’s tourism industry and help the nation’s economy and aviation sector to rebuild.”

As part of the new network, the business will also expand capital city connections and frequencies between Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

Currently, only NSW, Victoria and the ACT have kept their borders open, with other states restricting travel to residents or those with essential reasons.

The decision by Virgin Australia to increase frequency, therefore, will likely add to pressure on those states to remove the restrictions.


From 12 June, passengers also have to fill out a health questionnaire and undergo a health screening at check-in. The middle seat will be kept free where possible.

Virgin Australia group medical officer Dr Sara Souter said, “Team members and guests are being encouraged to regularly wash their hands and avoid touching their face, and hand sanitiser and masks will be available to all guests on request.

“We will be adopting contactless check-in, a new sequenced boarding and disembarkation process and guests will see more frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces on the aircraft and within the airport.


“In addition, a new health questionnaire will be rolled out as part of the check-in process to ensure passengers are fit to fly and to assist with contact tracing.”

The move to ramp up flying comes despite Virgin Australia’s administrator hinting on Wednesday that the two prospective bidders are worried about a lack of clarity regarding how long government support will last.

Deloitte even sent a letter to the government asking for a continuation of the JobKeeper subsidy beyond its late-September expiry and for a government-underwritten guarantee on ticket refunds.

Last week, Qantas dramatically announced it was planning to add 300 more return flights per week by the end of June.

The business also announced it could increase capacity “up to 40 per cent” by the end of July depending on demand and the lifting of state border restrictions.

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said, “We know there is a lot of pent up demand for air travel and we are already seeing a big increase in customers booking and planning flights in the weeks and months ahead.”

Currently, Qantas and Jetstar are operating just 5 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity but the June increase will shift that up to 15 per cent.

Comments (15)

  • Roger Hooper


    Can we please not have “Team Members and Guests”.
    They are staff and passengers.
    Surely a guest is someone invited to be there as opposed to a paying passenger.

    • Mikael


      Couldn’t agree more! Virgin’s been calling their PAYING passengers’, ‘guests’ for years.
      It sounds so stupid.
      A ‘guest’ doesn’t pay.

    • Craigy


      When you stay at a hotel you are called a ‘guest’ and you pay for the room. I also hate that terminology when used by airlines.

      • Juniper


        Yes, but a hotel is ‘stationary’, except in the lifts.
        People travelling ie moving, in cars, busses, trains & planes are called passengers.

    • James


      Been around since Virgin Blue days. Probably won’t change.

      But is it really a big deal? Let’s hope these “guests” come back, keep paying and keep the thing afloat for the people that work there.

    • Shane


      Agree. Trying to posh

  • Red Cee


    Why will extra Virgin flights place pressure on state governments to open borders? The borders are closed due to medical advice, not what the airlines are doing.

    • Adam Thorn


      Hey Red Cee,

      I think it will put pressure on because it seems strange to put on additional fligths when people are only allowed to enter a state for an essential reason. I suspect (though I doubt they would ever admit) they are doing so because they believe states will relent sooner rather than later. The benefit for Virgin is to take advantage of the early high demand for flights when they do.

      Hope that explains my thinking!

      Thanks for your comment,


  • Sam


    What about Tiger?

    • Carlton


      Can’t fly without pilots. Virgin sacked them all months’ ago.
      So they’re gone, totally.

      • James


        Virgin pilots will/were planned to operate tiger flights

    • jay


      Who is Tiger..?

  • James


    Why are people forgetting about Alliance & Rex Airlines?
    Virgin doesn’t fly outback Oz routes. They only want the money-making ones’.

  • John Gyz


    I agree with the misuse of the term Guest similar to the term Client, you are no longer a patient when you see your doctor or go to hospital.

  • Robert


    Where is the money coming from to pay for these Virgin flights ? Have the administrators done a deal with the aircraft leasing companies who own the aircraft and are owed millions ? The administrators said last week they would run out of operating capital by early July ? I wouldn’t buy a Virgin ticket as there is a risk you could loose you money.

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