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Virgin Atlantic to withdraw from Australia

Published: 04/02/2014 - Filed under: News »

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Virgin Atlantic will terminate its Sydney route with effect from May 5.

The carrier currently deploys an A340-600 on its daily London-Hong Kong-Sydney route.

The popular service linking London-Hong Kong will continue, only the onward flight from Hong Kong to Sydney will be discontinued.

In a statement to Business Traveller, Virgin Atlantic said: "Increasing costs and a challenging economic environment have affected revenues and the route is no longer considered profitable. Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate services between London and Hong Kong."

Craig Kreeger, the airline's CEO, said: "Unfortunately, we intend to withdraw our services between Sydney and Hong Kong. Despite the best efforts of our employees, external factors such as increasing costs and a weakening Australian dollar have affected our profitability.

"These are difficult times for the airline industry and as part of our strategy to operate more efficiently, we need to deploy our aircraft on routes with the right level of demand to be financially viable."

Virgin said its last flight departing Hong Kong for Sydney will be on May 4 with the final flight departing Sydney for London being the following day.

The viability or otherwise of direct flight airlines plying the kangaroo routes has been much discussed in our online forum.

But, basically, these very long flights are costly to operate because of poor utilisation and high staff overheads along the route.

Once Virgin quits the kangaroo route it will leave just British Airways and Qantas as the only two carriers plying directly between Europe and Australia.

There can be no doubt that Virgin Atlantic was forced to quit the kangaroo route because of ever tougher competition from both the Gulf and Asian indirect carriers.

And this competition, which drives down the cost of tickets (good for passengers, not good for airlines), is set to get fiercer still in the years ahead as rivals add more flights.

virgin-atlantic.com

Alex McWhirter

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COMMENTS » 

ANDREWYOUNG1 - 05/02/2014 10:19

Once Virgin quits the kangaroo route it will leave just British Airways and Qantas as the only two carriers plying directly between Europe and Australia.

ANDREWYOUNG1 - 05/02/2014 10:22

A little confused by "Once Virgin quits the kangaroo route it will leave just British Airways and Qantas as the only two carriers plying directly between Europe and Australia." These services are no more direct than Emirates services to Australia via Dubai or Singapore Airlnes services via Singapore for example.

AMcWhirter - 05/02/2014 12:43

Hello AndrewYoung1

Let me explain:

A direct flight is a through service with a single flight number and a single ticket coupon. In the case of LHR-SYD the same airline will operate right through with the same aircraft.

An indirect flight is one where there will be an enroute change of flight and aircraft. It means passengers must book two flights and be issued with two ticket coupons. So if a traveller books EK he or she will have to take two separate flights ie LHR-DXB plus DXB-SYD and be issued with two separate flight coupons.

What's the drawback ? Well it means that when you change planes you will invariably have to change seats. Or you may find you are flying on a lesser type of plane for part of the trip.

For example, a passenger taking SIA's morning flight for LHR-SIN-SYD will take an A380 from LHR to SIN and then switch to a refurbished B777-300 (not B777-300ER, by the way) for the onward connection to SYD.

Reader feedback suggests that what SIA bills as a "refitted B777-300" does not have the same appeal as an A380. (BTW This is something I wrote about at length in the magazine a few years back, following reader complaints).

The other disadvantage of taking an indirect flight is when bad weather or other problems affect punctuality which means that a connection may be lost.

MarcusUK - 06/02/2014 18:51

I am just En route to Australia, this time choosing Etihad via AUH. I always stopover for 1-3 nights each way whatever Airline or route these days.
i think far fewer travellers make the flight direct these days.
Etihad provided me with limo services (8 in total!), and a free stopover in each direction for 1 night, with every other half price in 5 star hotels of my choice.
I paid £2,750 return each for two tickets, and bid for a First upgrade and got it on the next leg of 15 hrs.

Frankly, which European Airline provide this level of service for this excellent price?

Virgin need to get themselves into Skyteam quickly to survive i think, personally having been a Gold member with them, the last flights were pretty awful, and i ditched using them completely. Their falling standards owe much to their demise on the Australia route, and the new EK/QF arrangement has had a major impact on many other Oceania flights, such as Air New Zealand via HKG.
I think many who fly there now, use the Far East much less.

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