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Virgin resumes Samoa services from Brisbane and Sydney

written by Jake Nelson | March 22, 2023

Virgin Australia has restarted flights to Samoa after three years, with up to two return flights per week on the Apia-Sydney and Apia-Brisbane routes.

The first new Virgin flight from Sydney to Apia, VA99, touched down at 4:51am this morning, having departed Sydney at 9:50pm last night using the Boeing 737-800 aircraft VH-YIQ.

Brisbane flights will commence tomorrow, 23 March, with Apia-bound flights from both Sydney and Brisbane initially departing in the evening – from 28 March, flights will depart Sydney during the daytime instead.

Last night’s flight was staffed with a Samoan first officer and an all-Samoan cabin crew, with a traditional song performed during the flight and a cultural welcome for passengers upon arrival, said Virgin Australia chief strategy and transformation officer Alistair Hartley.


“There is a strong Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) market in Samoa which is why we wanted to mark this occasion with a Samoan crew,” he said.

“It’s an exciting step in the rebuilding of our short-haul international network and comes ahead of our return to Vanuatu later this month. Samoa is well-known for its rich culture and friendly locals and has been a popular destination in the Virgin Australia network since 2005.”

Virgin has been ramping its international services back up and is looking to expand its network after its first attempt to bring short-haul international flights back as it came out of administration was halted by the COVID-19 Omicron wave in January 2022.

Its international short-haul network as of this month includes Bali, Queenstown, Nadi, Port Vila and Apia, with long-haul services to Tokyo (Haneda) to begin in June. Virgin expects to increase its international capacity by 50 per cent by mid-next year.

Speaking at last October’s Flight Centre Illuminate summit in Sydney, Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said the airline was “looking at a world of possibilities and extending [its] reach”.

“We’re very focused on our 737 aircraft footprint. We’ve got 737-700s and 800s, and we’ve got MAX-8 and 10s coming into the fleet that gives us a bit more range, and so we will be adding to the network,” she said.

Virgin announced last year it would acquire another four MAX 8s to take its total domestic fleet to 92 Boeing 737 aircraft. It marked a significant increase from its original intention of having just 58 aircraft when it emerged from administration.

Virgin will now have a future fleet of 25 737 MAX 10s, which has a range of 6,110km, and 8 737 MAX 8s, which has a longer range of 6,570km.

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