MIAMI – Australian travelers can now make unlimited changes to their bookings without incurring any fees or changes between now and January 31, 2021. It’s part of Virgin Australia’s (VA) new ‘Passenger Promise’, and they become the first airline to introduce such flexibility with existing bookings.

The recent announcement gives guests extra flexibility and confidence when booking their travel with Virgin Australia. A spokesman said: “Virgin Australia is an airline that offers great value fares and award-winning service, and today’s announcement is a testament to that commitment.

“Whilst there is still uncertainty around border restrictions, we know that Australians want to start booking their travel and our Passenger Promise will give travellers the peace of mind they need to make a booking now.

“We’re hopeful that borders will reopen by Christmas and this new initiative to help get travellers on their next flight is the right step forward to rebooting the Australian tourism industry.”

Photo: Brandon Farris

A Brief History

The news of flexible booking is music to the ears of millions of their customers. In 2019, VA flights carried 25.5 million passengers. The airline has been around since 2000, commencing services in Australia as Virgin Blue. It’s been a meteoric rise in the 20 years gone by since its inception.

Since its early days, Virgin Blue promoted its brand by sponsoring NRL side the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Since rebranding to Virgin Australia in 2011, the airline has partnered successfully with the likes of AFL clubs the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Not only do they feature heavily in the AFL, but they also take a keen interest in V8 Supercars. The annual motorsport series changed its name back in 2016 to the Virgin Australia Supercar Championship. This year’s Bathurst 1000 gets underway on 15 October with Scott McLaughlin and Tim Slade among the favorites this year.

Many regard this touring car race as one of the best and most entertaining motorsport events in the world. Down Under, the series is very popular not just among fans but other brands too, and proven Australian betting sites like bet365 feature exclusive odds for the event for Aussies to bet on.

Photo: Brandon Farris

2020 Relaunch with Bain Capital

With the current climate grinding many airlines to a halt, VA will return to the skies domestically with their fleet of 56 Boeing 737 jets after coming out of administration thanks to the sale of the airline to Bain Capital in September. VA’s chief operations officer (CCO), Stuart Aggs, stated that the airline’s capacity would be around 75% when compared to pre-coronavirus levels. If demand is high, that figure of 56 jets will rise to 75.

“To do this, we’ll be taking advantage of the current aircraft market for used 737s. We expect to see opportunities to secure additional aircraft over the coming months when demand returns, and we will actively monitor this,” commented Aggs.

The company also successfully negotiated lower lease rates on its remaining 56 Boeing 737s, reducing its operating costs. However, negotiations with Boeing over the pending delivery of 40 737 MAX aircraft are still ongoing, confirmed a VA spokesperson, commenting that the airline will provide an update on its MAX order “in the coming months.”

Photo: James Filed

A Bright Future?

It remains to be seen how the aviation industry will bounce back from the devastation of 2020. Still, a welcomed boost arrived for VA at the start of October with the news that the Queensland government agreed a $200 million deal to keep the carrier’s HQ in Brisbane until 2030. It’s not yet known whether the deal will secure regional air routes in the state, but it allows the airline to grow continually and to get back to normal in 2021 and beyond.

Featured image: Darren England / Associated Press.