Virgin Australia axes Melbourne to Los Angeles services, announces daily flights to Brisbane

There will be no more direct flights from Melbourne to LA for Virgin Australia passengers.
There will be no more direct flights from Melbourne to LA for Virgin Australia passengers. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Virgin Australia will increase flights from Brisbane to Los Angeles to a daily service and abandon its Melbourne-Los Angeles flights as rival United Airlines enters the latter route in October.

Virgin had provided a three-weekly service between Melbourne and Los Angeles and a four-weekly service between Brisbane and Los Angeles on a Boeing 777-300ER, but now the Brisbane route will go daily from October 26.

United Airlines begins its direct, six-weekly Melbourne-Los Angeles flights on a new 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on October 28, ending its previous tag flight from Melbourne to Sydney that allowed Melbourne customers to then catch flights from Sydney to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Virgin said had made the decision to change its US flights after consulting with its trans-Pacific alliance partner Delta Air Lines.

There had been widespread speculation in the travel industry that Virgin would make this change after United in February announced its plans to enter the Melbourne-Los Angeles route.

Qantas Airways, which offers a daily A380 service from Melbourne to Los Angeles, has not shirked from United's challenge. It will add a 747 service on top of its A380 service on some days in the peak Christmas/New Year period.

Virgin chief operating officer Judith Crompton said the changes announced by her airline were the result of extensive market analysis.

"Having the right frequency is very important to corporate and leisure customers and moving to daily flights from Brisbane enables us to provide more choice and flexibility to those travelling to and from Queensland," she said.

Virgin is expected to unveil an upgrade to the business class of its 777 aircraft later this year. The current seating configuration of 2-3-2, unlike that used by partner Delta, does not provide for direct aisle access.

Between the pair, Virgin and Delta offer two daily flights to Los Angeles from Sydney. Ms Crompton said Melbourne passengers would be able to fly to Sydney or Brisbane and connect with a flight to Los Angeles from those ports on one ticket with checked-through baggage after the Melbourne-Los Angeles service was abandoned.

Brisbane Airport Corporation said it welcomed Virgin's decision to add flights from the Queensland city, in a move that will boost Brisbane-Los Angeles capacity by 2166 seats a week.

Qantas is the only other airline to offer direct Brisbane-Los Angeles flights, which it does daily on a 747.

Virgin and Delta have been flying to the US since 2008, when they broke a long-running duopoly between Qantas and United on flights from Australia to the mainland US. Jetstar, Hawaiian Airlines and Qantas offer flights between Australia and Hawaii.

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