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Virgin Australia cuts domestic and international routes

Virgin Airlines Australia airplane on the runway at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne. The airline has announced it is exiting some domestic and international routes. (Source: Getty)

Virgin Australia Airlines is exiting some domestic and international routes in a bid to cut costs and claw back savings for its bottom line.

Flights from Sydney to Christchurch and Hong Kong to Melbourne will stop operating from April and February 2020. 

Domestic routes set to face the chop are Canberra to Perth from 6 December 2019 and Gold Coast to Perth from 19 January 2020.

Virgin Australia’s low-budget airline Tigerair will also be dropping three domestic routes: Brisbane to Darwin and Proserpine to Sydney will be cut from 3 February 2020, while Tigerair’s Adelaide to Brisbane route will cease from 29 March 2020.

The major airline will begin dropping earmarked routes from as early as December this year but will also be introducing or re-introducing some routes from early 2020.

Virgin’s Brisbane to Haneda, Japan route will commence from 29 March 2020 and the Melbourne to Denpasar route will be reintroduced on the same date.

In today’s statement, Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah said: “Some of today’s changes respond to shifting demand on some routes, and others are about refocusing Virgin Australia and Tigerair Australia on the destinations we feel they are best suited.”

The changes are designed to lift Virgin Australia’s profitability for the 2020 financial year, according to a statement released today by Virgin.

The network overhaul comes off the back of a previous announcement from late August that the airline would be slashing 750 jobs by July 2020 after copping a $315 million loss in the 2018-19 financial year.

Speaking at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit, Scurrah defended the 750 job cuts citing high fuel prices and the weaker Australian dollar.

“In the Australian context, for airlines, there’s the headwinds that we just can’t control, or can only partially control.

“Fuel is a big issue for us,” he added.

“Currency going down is actually really bad for us because most of the bills we pay are in US dollars.”

The flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong have been cut as a result of political unrest, Scurrah indicated in a statement.

“Demand for the Hong Kong route has declined in line with the political landscape and we feel this is now best serviced through a single daily Sydney-Hong Kong service.”

“The Airbus A330 currently operating the Melbourne-Hong Kong services will be re-deployed onto our daily Brisbane-Haneda flights commencing in March 2020, where we expect strong demand,” Scurrah said.

Virgin is also scaling back the Sydney to Tamworth flights from twice a day to six times a week and the Auckland to Sydney flights from 19 return flights a week to 14.

It will also add four more flights a week from Sydney to Port Macquarie and replace Tigerair’s Adelaide to Brisbane flights with five extra services a week.

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