QANTAS TAKES OFF BETWEEN ADELAIDE AND THE GC!

The national carrier continues to expand its domestic network, with its inaugural Adelaide-Gold Coast services taking flight.

Gold Coast-Adelaide is one of 47 new routes that the Qantas Group has announced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fifth new route launched from the Gold Coast, responding to the fact that more Australians are holidaying domestically.

“It seems like Qantas launches a new domestic route each week,” says Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

QantasLink is operating four weekly return flights with the Embraer E190 regional jet aircraft, bringing some 750 seats to the route each week. Flights will increase to daily during school holiday peaks.

With its size, range and economics, the 94-seat jet has opened up a number of new routes that wouldn’t have been viable with Qantas’ existing fleet.

Launching the route, QantasLink CEO John Gissing said “Adelaide, a city bursting with culture and entertainment and the gateway to Australia’s world-famous wine regions, has been very popular with travellers in recent months. We’re pleased to be making it more accessible for Queenslanders to visit with these new flights.”

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VIRGIN GALACTIC SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES FIRST FULLY CREWED SPACEFLIGHT

Virgin Galactic’s fourth rocket-powered spaceflight was its first to fly with a full crew in the cabin, including the Company’s founder, Sir Richard Branson.

“I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space. We are at the vanguard of a new space age. As Virgin’s founder, I was honoured to test the incredible customer experience as part of this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”
Sir Richard Branson

The spacecraft, VSS Unity, achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve. The vehicle reached space, at an altitude of 53.5 miles, before gliding smoothly to a runway landing at Spaceport America.

The crew completed a number of tests related to the cabin and customer experience, including evaluating the commercial customer cabin, the views of Earth from space, the conditions for conducting research, and the effectiveness of the five-day pre-flight training program at Spaceport America.

“Today is a landmark achievement for the Company and a historic moment for the new commercial space industry. With each successful mission we are paving the way for the next generation of astronauts. I want to thank our talented team, including our pilots and crew, whose dedication and commitment made today possible. They are helping open the door for greater access to space – so it can be for the many and not just for the few.”
Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic

The flight gave a glimpse of the journey Virgin Galactic passengers can expect when it launches commercial services following the completion of its test flight program.

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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.

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QANTAS DARWIN-CANBERRA FLIGHTS TAKE OFF

The first QantasLink flights connecting the two cities in nine years have taken flight.

QantasLink will offer up to five weekly, direct return flights operated by the Embraer E190 regional jet aircraft, delivering nearly 1,000 seats on the route each week.

With its size, range and economics, the 94-seat jet has opened up a number of new routes that wouldn’t have been viable with Qantas’ existing fleet.

“The Qantas network continues to grow as the economy warms up and Australians look to travel to new, easily accessible destinations. These new flights connecting the NT to the ACT open up fabulous leisure and corporate travel opportunities,” said Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

The new route is the latest in a number of recent capacity increases for the Darwin market with more frequent flights and larger aircraft operating in response to strong demand. For the peak July-September travel season, the airline’s capacity is up 120 per cent on Melbourne-Darwin compared to pre-COVID. Sydney, Perth and Adelaide to Darwin are all up by 60 per cent over the same period.

“With no other airline currently operating on the route, the direct flights will save business and leisure travellers more than two hours travel time on a round trip instead of flying via other capital cities,” said QantasLink CEO John Gissing.

The Darwin-Canberra service is one of the 45 routes that the Qantas Group has announced or launched since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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UNITED’S SONIC BOOM

First U.S. airline signs commercial agreement with Boom Supersonic.
New aircraft will cut travel times in half and operate on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

In a move that sounds a little ‘Back to the Future’, United Airlines has announced it intends to add supersonic commercial aircraft to its fleet.

United is purchasing 15 ‘Overture’ airliners manufactured by Boom Supersonic, with an option for an additional 35.

“It’s really exciting to learn of this commitment from United. The return of supersonic flights will be hugely popular with corporate and premium leisure travellers,” says Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

Capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7, Boom’s Overture aircraft will pierce the sky at twice the speed of the fastest airliners today, connecting cities in half the time.

Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

“The world’s first order of net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations.” Blake Scholl – Founder & CEO, Boom Supersonic

Some of the future potential routes for United’s Overtures include:

  • Newark to London in just three and a half hours.
  • Newark to Frankfurt in four hours
  • San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours.

Overture is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029.

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SINGAPORE AIRLINES FIRST CLASS RETURNS TO SYDNEY

From 01 June 2021, Singapore Airlines will resume the operation of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on services to Sydney.

Why is that significant? Well, for one thing, it means the return of the airline’s legendary First Class cabin.

“Singapore Airlines’ First Class cabin and service is about as good as it gets,” says Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

“It’s a pretty exquisite combination of brilliant hardware, dining, privacy and personal touches that make a real impact on the luxury leisure and corporate travel experience—a benchmark in the truest sense,” added Bush.

Singapore Airlines’ passenger capcity will reach roughly 26% of its pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of May 2021. Brisbane and Perth frequencies will increase to 10 and 11 weekly flights respectively through May and June 2021.

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SEVEN NEW QANTAS ROUTES + DOMESTIC DREAMLINERS

Qantas has announced seven new domestic routes, and is deploying more widebody aircraft between major capital cities to help meet strong demand for domestic travel across Australia.

“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.”
Qantas Domestic and International CEO, Andrew David.

The new services will see Qantas’ capacity exceed 100 per cent of pre-COVID levels in the coming months, and will provide direct connections and reduce travel time for customers on the following routes:

  • Townsville to Adelaide/Melbourne/Sydney
  • Adelaide to Cairns/Hobart
  • Sydney-Uluru

Five of the routes will be operated by Alliance Airlines’ Embraer E190 regional jets.

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

Qantas passengers will also see more widebody aircraft with Business Suites on flights between the East Coast capital cities into Perth and Darwin.

Usually used for long haul international flights including Perth-London, the 236-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will begin operating up to nine Sydney to Perth flights per week.

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 the airline’s east-west routes.

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NEW FLIGHTS FROM AOTEAROA TO THE APPLE ISLE

For the first time in more than 20 years, Tasmania has welcomed direct flights from across the Tasman, with Air New Zealand launching a new direct service between Auckland and Hobart.

On 22 April, Air New Zealand commenced its twice-weekly service which will fly on Thursday and Sundays.

“It’s quite remarkable that there have been no direct international services between Tassie and New Zealand for more than 20-years,” said Sarah Bush, Co-Founder & Director of The Travel Authority Group.

“We’re delighted to see airlines adding new routes to their networks wherever they are in the world, and look forward to seeing our clients dust off their passports and travel again,” added Bush.

Prior to the COVID shocks, Tasmania welcomed 25,000 visitors per year from New Zealand. Expectations are high that these new direct services will increase arrivals significantly, boosted by the fact that there’s no requirement to transit any gateways on the Australian mainland.

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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.

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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.”

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