Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand could be about to kiss and make up with the reformation of a once strong codeshare alliance which will dramatically improve Trans-Tasman flying options for millions of travellers.
The two airlines have submitted proposals to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the New Zealand Ministry of Transport aimed at allowing Virgin Australia to significantly expand its network in New Zealand.
Since relaunching in 2021 under the ownership of Bain Capital, Virgin Australia has only launched services to one New Zealand city, with Queenstown flights taking off daily from Brisbane, Sydney and four times weekly from Melbourne.
“This codeshare agreement, if authorised, will give Virgin Australia customers direct access to Air New Zealand flights into Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch allowing them to reach more of Aotearoa,” a statement from Virgin Australia read.
“It will create more opportunities for Velocity members to earn and redeem points across the Tasman and give eligible Velocity members lounge access when flying between Australia and New Zealand.”
Virgin Australia’s Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, Alistair Hartley, said the proposed codeshare would complement its existing Queenstown route.
“New Zealand is the most popular overseas destination for Australian travellers, making this a great addition to our international network offering,” Hartley said.
A reinstated partnership with Air New Zealand will see the airline join a strong roster of international partners with whom Virgin Australia customers can access the world, while also earning and redeeming Velocity points.
This stable includes Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and more.
According to the applications, the proposed partnership is a one-way deal, meaning Virgin Australia would add its code to Air New Zealand flights to Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, but not vice-versa, due to Air New Zealand’s existing codeshare deal with Qantas on domestic Australian routes.
The two airlines have previously worked together very closely, with Air New Zealand even holding a 26 percent equity stake in Virgin Australia at one point, before a bitter break-up which saw NZ shift its affection to Qantas in a very bitter break-up back in 2018.
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