UPDATED: Wednesday, 25 November
Virgin has announced it will operate five services per day between Melbourne and Brisbane by Christmas after Queensland on Wednesday rubber-stamped its decision to open to Victoria on 1 December.
The airline also said it would resume interstate services between Melbourne-Gold Coast and Melbourne-Sunshine Coast from 30 November and Melbourne-Cairns from 14 December.
The news comes a day after Qantas and Jetstar said its flying schedule will rebound to 60 per cent of pre-COVID levels and it would add an extra 1,200 return flights into Queensland from NSW and Victoria.
See the full list of new services, fully updated, at the bottom of this article.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the decision to open her state following Sydney going 28 days without any ‘community transmission’ of COVID – a milestone Victoria hit on Wednesday.
From 1 December, Qantas and Jetstar said it would:
- Operate more than 250 return flights per week across seven routes from Sydney, compared with just 36 return flights currently;
- Operate more than 160 flights per week from Melbourne from 1 December;
- Jetstar will operate four weekly services from Avalon to the Gold Coast from January;
- Both airlines will reinstate more than 10 routes that had been suspended and open 30 of 35 domestic and regional lounges.
Chief executive Alan Joyce, who has long criticised Queensland’s border closure, said he thanked the government and Premier Palaszczuk.
“Australia as a whole needs certainty about state borders staying open, particularly when the testing and tracing framework is now so well established,” said Joyce. “We renew our calls for a consistent set of rules that apply nationwide.”
Virgin, meanwhile, said it would relaunch flights between Sydney-Cairns, Sydney-Hamilton Island and Sydney-Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine) ahead of Christmas.
The business’ general manager of networks, Russell Shaw, said, “The additional services will be timed to provide choice and convenience for customers, while at the same time give travellers the opportunity to do business and reconnect with loved ones, families and friends ahead of the well-earned Christmas break.”
Premier Palaszczuk has repeatedly stated that she would only open her state up to areas that have recorded a month without so-called community transmission – that is cases of COVID where no source of the infection can be traced.
Those rules meant Queensland opened up to NSW on 10 July but closed to Sydney on 1 August and then to all of NSW and the ACT again a week later. Despite opening for a second time to the ACT on 25 September and NSW on 20 October, the city of Sydney was excluded.
The bizarre restrictions meant those from Sydney could potentially travel to Queensland but had to first spend 14 days outside the city. Travellers could also fly from Sydney Airport but couldn’t stop anywhere in the city en route.
Premier Palaszczuk said the decision was made after “extensive conversations” between her chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young, and NSW’s counterpart.
Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, called the announcement “a great day for Australia”.
The state still remains closed to SA, after its second smaller outbreak last week that saw the state enter a six-day ‘hard lockdown’.
Last month, Australian Aviation revealed that Queensland’s continued refusal to open its borders to Sydney caused the latter’s domestic passenger traffic to flatline in September after plunging 70 per cent the previous month.
In a statement to the ASX, Sydney Airport said it welcomed 98,000 passengers in September, up only slightly from 91,000 in August and down significantly from 276,000 in July.
Sydney Airport also revealed it welcomed 34,000 international passengers in September, down slightly from 39,000 in August.
Virgin NSW-VIC return frequency 1 December vs Chrismas
Melbourne-Brisbane Two services per day | Five services per day
Melbourne – Gold Coast Three services per week | Two services per day
Melbourne – Sunshine Coast Three services per week | Daily services
Melbourne – Cairns Five services per week from 14 December | Daily services
Virgin NSW-QLD return frequency 1 December vs Chrismas
Sydney-Brisbane Three services per day | Up to seven services per day
Sydney-Gold Coast Daily services | Three services per day
Sydney-Sunshine Coast Five services per week | Daily services
Brisbane-Newcastle Nine services per week | Twice daily
Sydney-Cairns (route resuming) Four services per week | Daily services
Sydney-Hamilton Island (route resuming) *Four services per week from 08 December, increasing to daily from 21 December
Sydney-Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine) – route resuming *Three services per day from 17 December
New Qantas/Jetstar December services between NSW-VIC-QLD(vs current numbers)
Qantas Sydney-Brisbane (25) 63
Jetstar Sydney-Brisbane (4) 44
Qantas Sydney-Gold Coast (0) 8
Jetstar Sydney-Gold Coast (4) 64
Qantas Sydney-Hamilton Island (0) 4
Jetstar Sydney-Hamilton Island (0) 7
Qantas Sydney-Cairns (0) 7
Jetstar Sydney-Cairns (3) 24
Jetstar Sydney-Sunshine Coast (0) 12
Jetstar Sydney-Townsville (0) 7
Jetstar Newcastle-Gold Coast (4) 4
Jetstar Sydney-Proserpine (0) 3
Jetstar Melbourne-Proserpine (0) 4
Qantas Melbourne-Brisbane (0) 28
Jetstar Melbourne-Brisbane (0) 35
Qantas Melbourne-Gold Coast (0) 7
Jetstar Melbourne-Gold Coast (0) 44
Qantas Melbourne-Cairns (0) 4
Qantas Melbourne-Sunshine Coast (0) 7
Jetstar Melbourne-Sunshine Coast (0) 15
Jetstar Melbourne-Townsville (2) 7
Jetstar Avalon-Gold Coast (0) 4
New Qantas Group weekly NSW-Victoria network from 23 November
Qantas Melbourne – Sydney (75 services)
Jetstar Melbourne – Sydney (42 services)
Jetstar Melbourne – Ballina (5 services)
Qantas Mildura – Sydney (4 services)
Jetstar Melbourne – Newcastle (10 services)
Qantas Bendigo – Sydney (5 services from 7 December)