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Virgin suspends Adelaide to Bali due to Boeing delivery issues

written by Adam Thorn | April 29, 2024

Virgin Australia’s second 737 MAX 8, VH-8IC ‘Kirra Beach’. (Image: Boeing)

The delayed delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has led to Virgin indefinitely suspending direct flights from Adelaide to Bali.

The service was already due to stop between 28 April and 9 June, but that suspension will now continue until further notice. It previously stopped the route between 6 February and 17 March to allow flights to continue during the holiday period.

It comes as Boeing continues to face scrutiny over the safety of the 737 MAX family following the mid-air blowout of a door plug on board an Alaska Airlines MAX 9 in January, with the planemaker now the subject of a criminal investigation.

The incident also led to the FAA ordering Boeing to produce no more than 38 MAXs per month.

“The continued suspension of this route is necessary to manage impacts to our international and domestic schedule as a result of the delayed delivery of new aircraft,” said Virgin.

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“We acknowledge this decision will be disappointing for some guests, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience.

“Guests who wish to discuss alternative arrangements available to them … are encouraged to reach out to the Virgin Australia Guest Contact Centre on 136 789.”

In March, Australian Aviation reported how Virgin was staring down potential late arrivals of 31 new 737 MAX aircraft, including six MAX 8s and all 25 of its MAX 10s, owing to increased production delays across all Boeing aircraft types.

Virgin now expects to only receive four more MAX 8s this year from its order of 14, with the remaining six to arrive from early 2025, while the MAX 10s – which still have not received regulatory approval in the US – will not arrive until 2026 at the earliest.

“We have been advised by Boeing there will be a delay to the delivery of some 737 MAX 8 aircraft and we are working to minimise impacts to our schedule,” a Virgin spokesperson said.

Virgin currently operates a fleet mainly comprising older 737-800 aircraft, with some 737-700s, A320s and Fokker 100s handling flights for Virgin Australia Regional Airlines.

Its first MAX 8 arrived last year after being delayed by problems at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems, forcing the airline to initially use 737-700s on its Cairns–Tokyo (Haneda) route instead of MAX 8s as it had planned.

Despite the issues, the carrier increased its 737 MAX 8 order from eight to 14 in November. As the planes arrive, Virgin plans to deploy them on domestic routes servicing Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Cairns, as well as overseas destinations such as Fiji, Bali and Samoa.

Virgin and Bonza are currently the only two Australian airlines to operate 737 MAX aircraft, with Qantas largely turning to Airbus for its “Project Winton” fleet expansion program.

Virgin launched direct flights from Adelaide to Bali in December 2022 and the route is also served by Jetstar, which operates up to 14 flights per week depending on the time of year.

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Comment (1)

  • It is not as if this problem is new, been going on for what ,18 months or more so one wonders what is going on at VOZ?, – surely they would have had a plan B, – by all counts not so. They finally admitted that the B7378-800 is only a fair weather operation to Bali from the East coast and clearly ADL is now on the problem list too. Surely they should be looking or have been so at more suitable equipment well before they commit to operationally sensitive routes. That will not be enhancing any major institutional investors appeal to their planned IPO and even if they make a change decision now it will be another 2 years or more before new type equipment can be delivered and I have funny feeling that the “Max” issue is far from being solved too.

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