Virgin Australia wants to start daily fights between Brisbane and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in March 2020 and partner with the Japanese carrier, All Nippon Airways (ANA).
In an application filed with Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC), the airline says that the Japan market “represents an excellent strategic fit for Virgin Australia”.
The proposal comes after its competitor Qantas filed a similar application with IASC earlier this month for two of the available slots at Haneda.
Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have been competing for these slots at Haneda Airport after the Australian and Japanese governments agreed to allocate a total of two slots for services between the two countries.
Virgin states that its new flights “would create intense competition between ourselves, the Qantas Group and the other carriers serving the route”.
“The greatest public benefits are likely to be realised by splitting the available capacity between Virgin Australia and the Qantas Group. Such an outcome would facilitate increased competition, choice and more capacity than if both daily frequencies were allocated to the Qantas Group as it has requested,” says Virgin.
The airline plans to fly an Airbus A330 on this route configured with 20 seats in business class, eight seats in Economy X seats and 255 seats in economy class. The airline says this will boost the capacity on the Japan route by 200,750 seats per year.
Virgin Australia adds that it plans to offer new and enhanced products on this route including “in-flight connectivity (internet access) and a more generous checked bag allowance than Qantas Airways”.
The airline also says it has requested permission for a new partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA), which includes plans for reciprocal codeshare services between and within Australia and Japan, as well as a reciprocal loyalty benefits program expected to be launched in March 2020.
“Our partnership with ANA will enable us to provide passengers travelling on our flights with access to over 1,300 return flights per week from Haneda to 38 points in Japan,” says Virgin in its application.
The new flights between Australia and Tokyo-Haneda are scheduled to begin in March 2020. The IASC will announce its final decision on which carrier(s) will receive the allocated slots on October 31, 2019.