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Pacific Blue drops domestic NZ to focus on Trans-Tasman

By James Wilkinson

Virgin Blue’s new Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti has unveiled a range of changes to the group’s network, including the axing of domestic New Zealand Pacific Blue flights in lieu of increased Trans-Tasman and South East Asian services.

Pacific Blue has axed domestic NZ services

Changes have also been made to V Australia schedules, with Sydney-Nadi flights returning to Pacific Blue while services have been increased from Melbourne to Johannesburg, Los Angeles and Phuket.

The biggest news of the announcement is across the Tasman. Borghetti said Pacific Blue domestic New Zealand flights would cease on October 17, with the aircraft transferred to trans-Tasman, Pacific Island and South East Asia routes.

“We are adding capacity to routes with strong revenue potential and accordingly, removing capacity from services which are underperforming,” he said.

“These changes will maximise yields, increase aircraft utilisation and also provide a more attractive schedule for the business market, including better integration of our international and domestic schedules,” Borghetti said.

Changes Pacific Blue to services include: all New Zealand domestic flights cease on October 17; from August 18, 2010, Denpasar – Melbourne direct flights will increase from five flights per week to daily; from August 19, 2010, Perth – Phuket services will increase from two to three flights per week; from September 17, 2010, Brisbane – Dunedin services will increase from three to four flights per week; and from October 31, 2010, Christchurch – Melbourne frequency will increase from four flights per week to a daily service.

Borghetti said the removal of V Australia aircraft from flights to Fiji was to take advantage of demand for travel to the United States and subsequently, the Sydney-Los Angeles service has been re-timed to depart in the morning rather than the evening, resulting in guests being able to connect to East Coast USA flights.

“By restructuring our Pacific Blue operations we are now able to free up our long haul V Australia aircraft to capture the growing demand for travel to the USA,” he said. “By year-end, V Australia will be fully devoted to international long haul business more suited to the B777 fleet, with Fiji serviced by Pacific Blue.”

Changes Pacific Blue to services include: from October 19, 2010, V Australia’s Sydney – Los Angeles schedules will be adjusted to a morning departure from Sydney; the same day, capacity on V Australia medium haul flights to Fiji will be taken up by Pacific Blue; from
December 2010, V Australia will operate daily services between Sydney and Los Angeles; and from December 2010, V Australia will also operate an additional service weekly between Melbourne and Johannesburg, Melbourne and Los Angeles, and Melbourne and Phuket.

Borghetti said further developments were in the pipeline to increase domestic competitiveness and announcements would be made in due course.