Virgin Australia relaunch: What it means for Velocity frequent flyer points, routes and lounges

On Wednesday morning, Virgin Australia announced plans for its relaunch under new owner Bain Capital.

The airline went into voluntary administration in April owing $6.8 billion, amid the collapse of air travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Bain's plan includes axing 3000 jobs, selling some aircraft and closing budget carrier Tigerair.

What will Virgin Australia 2.0 be like for passengers? Here are the answers to a few burning questions.

What happens to my Velocity points?

Virgin's frequent flyer program Velocity has more than 10 million members. Bain confirmed all points would be honoured under the relaunched Virgin Australia. Velocity members can currently book flights using points after they were frozen back in April. Points can also be used for car hire and hotel bookings, but the Velocity online store is not yet available.

I booked a flight that was cancelled, what happens with my flight credit?

Bain has confirmed that the value of the flight credits given to passengers for cancelled flights due to the COVID-19 outbreak will be maintained. Passengers will have the lifespan of their flight credits extended - they will now have until July 31, 2022 to make a booking for travel up to July 30, 2023.

What about Tigerair?

Tigerair will cease to exist, though Bain confirmed the company would retain the airline's Air Operator's Certificate, which leaves the door open to launching another low-cost carrier in the future. Passengers who received flight credits for Tigerair flights will be able to use them on Virgin Australia bookings.

Without Tigerair in the market, ultra-cheap domestic fares driven by the competition between that airline and Jetstar will likely become rare.

What about international flights?

Virgin has announced it will remove everything but its Boeing 737 and some smaller aircraft from its fleet. This means the longer-haul flights previously serviced by its Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s will no longer be possible. The airline stated that long-haul international flights were an important part of its plan but would be suspended until the global air travel market recovers. However, without the aircraft to fly these routes, questions remain about how the airline would re-start long-haul. It has been suggested the airline will look to obtain smaller, more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliners for long-haul flights.

The airline will retain its codeshare partners for international flights - these include Delta, Singapore Airlines and Etihad.

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Short-haul international routes have been mentioned as part of the airline's new focus - before the shutdown, the airline flew to Bali, Fiji and New Zealand.

What about domestic routes?

Along with its 737s, the airline is retaining its Fokker 100s and Airbus A320s. These smaller aircraft will be used for regional and charter services. The airline will retain an "extensive" domestic network but there is no indication yet if routes will be cut.

What about lounge access?

Virgin said lounges would remain "in key domestic locations" and would re-open them "when demand returns". The airline currently has lounges in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Mackay, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The lounges in Alice Spring, Wellington and one of the two Perth lounges are set to close as part of the current changes. The airline temporarily closed its lounges in March to comply with social distancing rules. Qantas reopened some lounges last month. 

See also: Photos: Interior of Virgin Galactic's tourist spaceship revealed

See also: Emirates to offer free COVID-19 cover to all passengers

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