Virgin Australia is launching a new route in June 2023. The route will be from Cairns to Tokyo. The route will be serviced by a Boeing 787-8 aircraft. This is just the latest in a broader trend of airlines opting for narrowbody jets for longer (if not quite long haul) flights.
Virgin Australia on Wednesday announced its first-ever route between Cairns and Tokyo. The route, which will operate daily return flights, is between Cairns and Tokyo (Haneda). The service will commence on the 28th of June 2023.
The route is being launched in partnership with the Queensland Government and Cairns Airport. To celebrate, Virgin Australia launched a ‘Hello Tokyo’ sale on Wednesday. The sale features return fares from as low as $699 Economy Lite return, which will be on sale until midnight on the 20th December 2022 or until sold out.
Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive Officer, Jayne Hrdlicka said of the new route: “I’m thrilled to announce the launch of our brand-new daily, year-round Cairns-Haneda service with VA77 taking off on 28 June next year. We’re excited to offer our guests access directly into and out of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, on new fuel-efficient aircraft.”
“Virgin Australia is a proud Queensland company and we’re delighted to add over 2,000 seats between these iconic destinations every week which means more value and choice for Australians wanting to travel to Japan. Importantly, it also means welcoming more Japanese tourists into the Sunshine State to enjoy our unrivalled natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands.”
“We know the Japanese market is hugely important to trade and tourism in Far North Queensland and the Sunshine State and our service will result in more international visitors arriving in Cairns every year, having a very positive impact on the State’s economy.”Jayne Hrdlicka
Queensland Minister for Tourism, Stirling Hinchliffe said the new Haneda to Cairns route was supported by Queensland’s $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, in partnership with the State’s four international airports.
“Japan is an important part of our inbound international tourism recovery plan for iconic destinations like Cairns and Tropical North Queensland,” he said.
“From World Heritage-listed rainforests to the Great Barrier Reef, we know Japanese travellers love Tropical North Queensland’s great lifestyle and first-class visitor experiences.”
“As one of our traditional top five nations for holiday arrivals, we’re excited to welcome visitors from Japan back to the Queensland sunshine for the experience of a lifetime.”
“Virgin Australia direct from Japan is terrific news for tourism operators, generating almost $70 million for the Tropical North’s visitor economy and supporting 680 good Queensland jobs.”
Virgin Australia’s decision to use a 737 for the 7 hour 30 minute Cairns to Tokyo flight has come under question by some Twitter users. One asked: “What kind of hell would that be in a 737?” Another claimed: “4hrs flying time ADL – PER or ADL – DRW is more than enough on a 737. You would be going a little stir-crazy after 7+ hours…”
7:45 in a narrow body?— Sebunya Philip (@FilipSebunya) December 14, 2022
Yet another said: “The Antipodeans are trying to wreck the pleasant, well used to be, art of air travel.”
Very Apt description… “ Living Hell” 4hrs flying time ADL – PER or ADL – DRW is more than enough on a 737. You would be going a little stir-crazy after 7+ hours…… The equivalent of taking a Prius Taxi from Sydney to Melbourne…. https://t.co/ciYBcaLPRd— Stephen Bryers (@StephenBryers) December 14, 2022
Others, however, pointed out that there are plenty of other airlines that use 737 jets for flights of a similar distance and greater.
Icelandair ,Turkish , Aerolíneas Argentinas ,GOL ,Sunwings ,United ,Westjet ,COPA , they all have routes that last 8 hours on MAX— ⵣ Lotfi Rifi ⵣ (@LotfiLeRif) December 14, 2022
Smaller (single-aisle) planes and narrowbody jets were tipped to see a renaissance thanks to the pandemic, with international travel demand falling to unprecedented levels, and a slow recovery seeing airlines prioritise profits over comfort (even more than they had been previously). Consumer demand for more sustainable travel has also seen increased interest in narrowbody jets too, as they often consume less fuel.
Since international borders re-opened a year ago, Virgin Australia has resumed flights to Bali, Fiji, and Queenstown. A few more will be added to this roster in the first six months of next year, with Vanuatu, Samoa and Tokyo joining the crowd.
Virgin Australia also plans to commence Australia’s first ever Gold Coast to Bali service on 29 March 2023.