MORE NEW QANTAS ROUTES & AIRCRAFT DEPLOYMENTS

Further to our recent update about Qantas operating its Boeing 787 Dreamliners between Sydney and Perth, the national carrier has announced seven new domestic routes, as well as widebody aircraft deployments on domestic routes.

The new routes—Townsville to Adelaide/Melbourne/Sydney; Adelaide to Cairns/Hobart; Sydney-Uluru and Perth-Gold Coast—provide direct connections and reduce travel time for customers.

They also bring the total number of routes Qantas and Jetstar have added since the start of the pandemic to 45.

“We’re delighted to see the domestic travel market starting to flourish again. These new Qantas routes will, no doubt, be very popular,” said The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

Five of the routes will be operated by 94-seat Embraer E190 regional jets as part of QantasLink’s partnership with Alliance Airlines.

Travellers will also see more widebody aircraft with Business Suites on flights from East Coast capital cities into Darwin and Perth.

Widebody Qantas Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which serviced international routes into Asia, will operate on more flights into Darwin from Sydney and Brisbane, and also into Perth from Sydney and Melbourne. These will be added to the A330s already flying on east-west routes.

Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David said the new routes would support the growing demand for domestic tourism.

“As most international travel remains off limits for now, Australians are taking more regular holidays within the country and we expect these new direct flights to key tourism destinations will be popular with travellers,” said Mr David.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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VIRGIN OUTLINES GROWTH PLANS

Virgin Australia has announced fast-tracked plans to lease new aircraft, create more frontline jobs and grow its network to further support domestic tourism.

“We’re encouraged by the growth plans being articulated by Australia’s airlines at the moment,” says Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

“They certainly reflect the increased client activity in our businesses as Australians plan and book their long-overdue holidays and business trips,” adds Sarah.

The creation of more roles at Virgin Australia will see more than 220 cabin crew return to the skies from the airline’s discontinued long-haul international, ATR regional and Tigerair Australia operations.

The recovery efforts include the reintroduction of 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and the planned return of more than 80 per cent of the airline’s pre-pandemic domestic capacity by mid-June 2021.

After a year of rolling state-based restrictions, pent-up travel demand is driving the launch of several new and expanded services and frequencies on key holiday and business routes.

Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the airline was strongly focused on its domestic recovery program, which includes delivering experiences guests love while providing great value for leisure travellers, corporates and SMEs.

“We are building a strong and disciplined business, obsessed with providing our customers the very best of Virgin Australia travel experiences,” said Ms Hrdlicka.

“Today, we are operating around 850 weekly return flights, and as we approach the June school holidays, we will add another 220 return flights per week to our schedule. By mid-June, we expect to be operating more than 80 per cent of our pre-COVID domestic capacity,” added Hrdlicka.

New and extended seasonal services include:

  • Melbourne – Hamilton Island (3 flights per week from 08 June to 31 October)
  • Melbourne – Darwin (daily flights from 10 June to 31 October)
  • Brisbane – Launceston (4 flights per week from 17 June to 25 July) – seasonal extension
  • Melbourne – Ballina Byron Bay (5 flights per week from 09 June to 31 October) – seasonal extension
  • Brisbane – Queenstown (4 flights per week from 18 September)
  • Sydney – Queenstown (4 flights per week from 18 September)

Expanded frequencies include:

  • Sydney – Perth (up to 4 flights per day by 23 May)
  • Melbourne – Perth (up to 6 flights per day by 23 May)
  • Sydney – Adelaide (up to 5 flights per day by 23 May)
  • Melbourne – Adelaide (Up to 9 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Brisbane – Adelaide (up to 5 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Sydney – Gold Coast (up to 9 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Melbourne – Gold Coast (up to 8 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Melbourne – Sydney (up to 25 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Melbourne – Brisbane (up to 13 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Brisbane – Sydney (up to 15 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Sunshine Coast – Melbourne (up to 3 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Sunshine Coast – Sydney (up to 3 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Brisbane – Townsville (up to 4 flights per day by 20 June)
  • Brisbane – Mackay (up to 4 flights per day by 20 June)

The airline is hopeful that domestic border closures will soon be a thing of the past and continues to see positive signs of consumer recovery including multiple record-breaking sales days of half-priced fares, with more than 75 per cent of the tickets being booked for travel from May onwards.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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ALL VIRGIN DOMESTIC LOUNGES OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Virgin Australia has opened its seventh and final domestic Lounge in Canberra as customer demand strengthens with the airline expecting to be at 80% of pre-COVID-19 capacity by July 2021.

“We’re really pleased about this. Virgin Australia commenced reopening its domestic lounges last November, and this is yet another positive indicator that the gears of the economy are re-engaging, that airlines are gearing up for a return to business travel. We’re delighted.”
Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

The airline’s domestic lounge network now includes:

The airline revealed its ‘Lounge of the Future’ in Adelaide last month, stating that all future Lounge refurbishments around the domestic network will be done in line with this new and fresh design thinking.

A Virgin Australia Group spokesperson said, “Guests of our Canberra Lounge will be able to enjoy our new menu which is gradually rolling-out across the network and includes a selection of sandwiches, salads, wraps and healthy snacks, freshly prepared on site. Virgin Australia is committed to offering its frequent flyers lounges and looks forward to welcoming guests as they return to leisure and corporate travel.”

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements and to book your next flight with Virgin Australia.

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VIRGIN REVEALS ‘LOUNGE OF THE FUTURE’

Virgin Australia has unveiled its Lounge of the future, with the highly anticipated opening of its Adelaide Airport Lounge. The 283-seat space completes the airline’s network of seven lounges at major airports around Australia.

“Virgin’s new Adelaide lounge looks very smart indeed,” said The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

“We have no doubt that frequent and corporate flyers will enjoy the fresh new look and enhanced amenities. We look forward to seeing more Virgin lounges look and feel like this in future.”
Peter Hosper

The lounge’s contemporary design includes a breeze block feature wall, canopy ceilings, large light-filled spaces, and numerous dining and seating areas. Ambient lighting and bright greenery make it a relaxed and inviting place to refresh and recharge in a way that befits the Virgin brand.

Virgin Australia Adelaide Lounge Features

The Coffee Bar: An eye-catching central café seating area that turns into a wine bar at night.

The Cellar Door Hub: With some of Australia’s most awarded wineries on its doorstep, this is a space for South Australian wineries to bring their cellar door to the Lounge for seasonal wine tasting.

Distinct dining areas: Separate dining areas with diverse functionality cater to all guest’s eating preferences, including large social tables, and banquette seating for more private dining.

The Library: A dedicated work area featuring workstations with PCs, printing facilities, power sockets, and desk lamps, offering a functional environment to work on the fly.

All future Virgin domestic Lounge refurbishments will be done in line with this fresh, new design aesthetic.

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the new lounge was the first of many new and exciting products for customers following the airline’s re-launch.

“We are continuing to write a new chapter at Virgin Australia and we’re incredibly focused on creating great experiences for our guests,” said Ms Hrdlicka.

“We plan to make significant investment in our lounges over the next few years. The new lounge we’ve unveiled today will be the foundation for the Virgin aesthetic and experience we will roll out across the network.”
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka

In an Australian airline first, Virgin Australia is also trialling a food ordering system, offering guests end-to-end table service. Initially available in Adelaide and Melbourne, guests will be able to order food and beverages directly to their seat or table by simply scanning a QR code and placing an order on their phone.

This will not only provide a seamless table service for guests, but it will reduce movement and further enhance the COVID-safe environment.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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QANTAS ONE MILLION SEATS SALE

We don’t think we’ve ever seen a sale quite like this one.

Here are THREE reasons why:

  1. Flexibility boosted with unlimited flight date changes until at least January 2022 (!)
  2. One million seats on sale from $99 one-way to 55 destinations
  3. Complimentary beer and wine in Economy

We told you it was good.

FARES ARE ON SALE until 15 February for travel from Mid-March 2021.

“We’re thrilled by the built-in flexibility of unlimited date changes until at least January 2022,” says The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

[Customers could previously only make one flight change, for travel until the end of June.]

“Knowing that flexibility is part of your Qantas airfare will be a great source of confidence for our clients. Now more than ever before, prospective travellers need that confidence. We hope more airlines follow suit,” adds Hosper.

The flight date can be changed to any available for sale at the time (up to 355 days in advance). Qantas will waive the change fee (a fare difference may apply).

Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully, said with international borders closed, the best way to drive tourism is by making it even easier for Australians to explore their own backyard.

“As the national carrier, we have an important role to play in helping the industry recover from COVID-19, and we know that given the right opportunity, people are keen to travel,” Ms Tully said.

PREMIUM SERVICE

This month, Qantas is also making further improvements to inflight food and beverage options in line with its premium full-service offering. This includes:

  • Complimentary beer and wine for Economy passengers will continue to be available daily across domestic and regional flights (previously available for purchase on certain flights).
  • New hot meal options in Economy, ranging from gourmet beef pies and roast vegetable quiches to beef and mushroom ragout and roasted chicken with tomato, garlic and lemon sauce.
  • Qantas is the only domestic airline offering a full meal service including at breakfast and dinner, including key capital city routes between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. This will be rolled out to shorter flights in March.

The airline has also advised us that it has reopened the vast majority of its 35 Qantas Club and Business Lounges across Australia, and its Chairmans Lounges.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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SILKAIR IS NOW SINGAPORE AIRLINES

For more than 30 years, SilkAir was the full-service, regional subsidiary of Singapore Airlines operating single-aisle narrow-body aircraft to more than 40 destinations in Asia Pacific, including Cairns and Darwin.

But from 28 January 2021, SilkAir commenced its integration into Singapore Airlines – part of a planned merger announced in 2018.

“Whilst we’re sad to see the demise of the well-like SilkAir brand and offering, we’re sure our clients will welcome the airline’s rebirth as Singapore Airlines,” says Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

As a part of the carrier’s wide-ranging business transformation, the move is aimed at maximizing revenue by streamlining brands and standing out from the crowded low-cost carrier market.

“We do believe that with the merger, and with the single-brand, it will make it much easier for customers to understand [that both SilkAir and Singapore Airlines] belong to the same organization,” Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong said when the merger was announced in 2018.

SilkAir’s 9 Boeing 737-800 aircraft will progressively join the Singapore Airlines fleet with fresh Singapore Airlines livery, newly upholstered seats, and cabin crew dressed in Singapore Airlines’ iconic sarong kebaya.

Passengers can look forward to in-flight meals created by Singapore Airlines team of chefs, and the airline’s Book the Cook service will also be available on selected flights when travelling in Business Class.

Singapore Airlines’ 737-800 aircraft feature 12 Business Class seats with an 8″ recline, and 150 Economy Class seats.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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QANTAS OPENS INTERNATIONAL BOOKINGS FROM JULY

In a boost to the entire travel industry and the Australian travelling public, Qantas is anticipating a return to international travel from the middle of the year.

The national carrier’s reservation system is now taking international bookings for travel from 01 July 2021, across its entire overseas network.

“We’re thrilled to see international Qantas services in our bookimg systems once again,” said Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

The available services even include destinations in North America and the UK that had previously been expected to be off the table until October at least.

The bringing forward of services at this time perhaps aligns with Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce’s comments back in November that passengers will need to have been vaccinated for COVID-19 before being allowed to travel on Qantas internationally, and the Australian government’s announcement that the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has brought forward two weeks to early March.

Last week, Greg Hunt, the Federal Health Minister announced that the Australian vaccination rollout, should be complete in October 2021 ahead of schedule.

A Qantas spokesperson said the airline has aligned the selling of its international services “to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021.”

All of our wings have been clipped for the best part of a year now. Are you ready to fly again?

We’d love to hear from you, and help you navigate your way back into the air safely and with confidence.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

EMIRATES UNVEILS PREMIUM ECONOMY

In a bold move, Emirates has unveiled a brand new Premium Economy cabin on its newest A380 aircraft.

The airline received its newest A380 aircraft from Airbus’ Hamburg facility in late December, and its remaining order of 5 A380s will also be delivered with premium economy cabins through 2021 and 2022. The new premium economy seats will also be installed on some Emirates Boeing 777X aircraft which are due to join the fleet in 2023.

“The Emirates A380 is already one of the most sought-after travel experiences in the skies, and now we’ve made it even better. True to our fly better promise, Emirates continues to invest to offer our customers the best possible experience,” said Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline.

Our First, Business and Economy experiences reset industry standards when they were introduced, and we are confident that our Premium Economy will also make its mark as a distinct premium offering.

The new cabin offers 56 seats in a 2-4-2 layout.

With a generous pitch of up to 40-inches, Emirates’ premium economy cream-coloured leather seat is 19.5 inches wide, and reclines 8 inches into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out.

Seats also feature 6-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests.

“We love seeing airlines develop new passenger experiences, and we’re delighted to see Emirates’ much anticipated Premium Economy cabin take flight,” said The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

Emirates has announced that it will deploy its A380 aircraft featuring new premium economy seats and enhancements across all cabins to London Heathrow.

Interestingly, until more Premium Economy seats enter its inventory, the airline intends to offer these as spot upgrades for its valued customers on a discretionary basis.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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FREQUENT FLYER STATUS MATCHING – VIRGIN FIGHTS BACK

Hot on the heels of Qantas’ frequent flyer fast-track offer, Virgin Australia has hit back with an attractive counter offer.

The airline announced that its Velocity Frequent Flyer program will reward its Gold and Platinum members for their loyalty, and give eligible Qantas Frequent Flyer members (and their companion) a taste of flying with a ‘fun and vibrant’ airline.

Speaking at Brisbane Airport, Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said domestic airline competition was alive and well.

“Virgin Australia was the first airline in Australia to bring genuine competition to the domestic market, and that competitive spirit is in our DNA, so we’re happy to offer a more compelling loyalty offer than what is currently in market,” said Ms Hrdlicka.

“We’re pleased to welcome Qantas members to Velocity who are interested in taking advantage of cheaper fares, award-winning cabin crew, and great rewards for ongoing loyalty. We look forward to welcoming them onboard this summer season,” she added.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

By simply filling-in a short expression of interest form by 21 December 2020, Qantas Gold status and above members will receive a three month ‘Velocity Discover Gold Status’ trial membership.

That membership offers complimentary Lounge access, priority boarding, preferential seating, higher checked baggage allowances, and lucrative bonus points when customers book and fly with Virgin Australia.

To retain Velocity Gold status for 12-months and receive an additional Velocity Gold membership for a companion, they are only required to take one eligible flight and earn 80 status credits during their three month Discover Gold Status trial period—something previously only awarded to the most active Velocity members.

STATUS EXTENSIONS FOR EXISTING VELOCITY GOLD AND PLATINUM MEMBERS

Not to be outdone by the national carrier, Velocity Frequent Flyer is also offring eligible Gold and Platinum members a status extension of up to one year or until 31 March 2022, as long as they take one (1) eligible flight with Virgin Australia before 28 March 2021.

This is the second time Velocity has granted eligible members a Status extension this year. This will enable Gold and Platinum members to continue accessing benefits like Lounge access, priority boarding, and higher Velocity points earning ability when they return to the skies.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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QANTAS FAST-TRACKS LOYALTY PROGRAM SWITCHERS

In a perhaps not entirely surprising (but bold) move, Qantas Frequent Flyer is offering top tier members of other airline loyalty programs the opportunity to fast track their flying status when they switch to Qantas.

The offer also includes a very attractive bonus of 90-days of complimentary lounge access.

According to a statement from the national carrier, this is the first time it has made such an offer. It comes on the back of significant enquiries about joining the program from members of other domestic and international airline loyalty programs – the consequence of changes in the local market as well as restrictions on overseas travel.

So, how does it work?

People holding an eligible loyalty status with a qualifying airline program are invited to switch and take advantage of the Qantas Status Fast Track – an offer to earn 100 status credits in 3 months to qualify for Qantas’ Gold tier.

What does earning 100 Status Credits look like?

  • 5 x return economy trips Sydney to Melbourne.
  • 1 x return business class trip Melbourne to Cairns.

In addition to helping expedite their status, the offer also includes 90 days of complimentary access to Qantas Club lounges, and extra checked baggage.

Gold tier benefits with Qantas include lounge access across Qantas and oneworld airline lounges globally, preferential seating and priority access to reward seats, as well as priority check-in, boarding and upgrade requests.

Those wishing to transfer from a higher flying tier – Platinum and Platinum One equivalents – will only be able to transfer to Qantas’ Gold status, rather than have their status matched. Reaching a higher frequent flyer status requires members to earn the normal requirements within a Membership Year.

“With so much uncertainty in the market, we’ve seen a spike in requests from people wanting us to match their status with other airlines. If they are willing to bring their travel across to Qantas, we will fast track them to Gold status,” said Qantas Loyalty CEO, Olivia Wirth.

By early December, eligible Qantas Frequent Flyers will have access to 30 of the 35 domestic and regional lounges across the airline’s network.

Registrations for the Qantas Status Fast Track close 18 December 2020.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you!