Virgin Australia continues to expand its presence in Tasmania. On Tuesday, the airline confirmed it would resume flights between Hobart and Perth and launch flights between Hobart and Adelaide in October.
Tuesday’s news follows Virgin Australia recently beginning flights between the northern Tasmanian city of Launceston and Adelaide and planning to start seasonal flights between Launceston and Perth in November.
Virgin Australia is showing Tasmania some love
While Virgin Australia has had a presence in Tasmania since its early Virgin Blue days, it has always been comprehensively outgunned in that market by rivals Qantas and Jetstar. But lockdowns and travel restrictions in the big Virgin Australia markets of Sydney and Melbourne have forced the airline (and its competitors) to start looking at previously neglected city pairs.
“Virgin Australia continues to look for new ways to expand our network schedule to create more travel opportunities for Australians where free movement across borders is permitted,” said Virgin Australia’s Alistair Hartley on Tuesday.
“Virgin Australia is now the only carrier to connect both Launceston and Hobart to five state capital cities including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.”
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Perth and Adelaide flights to begin in October
Beginning October 22, VA1600 leaves Adelaide (ADL) at 07:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays to jet down to the Tasmanian capital of Hobart (HBA). The Boeing 737-800 lands at 10:00. It takes two hours exactly to cover the 724 miles (1,165 kilometers) between the two cities.
In the opposite direction, VA1601 will depart Hobart at 10:40 on the same day before landing in Adelaide at 12:40. Virgin Australia says it will add 5,600 seats per month on the route. Jetstar is the only other airline flying on this sector, also offering flights four times a week.
Virgin Australia previously flew nonstop between Hobart and Perth, launching the flights in September 2018 before dropping them (and most of their other routes) early in 2020. The flights were reportedly popular with Tasmanians keen to skip the traditional Melbourne connection.
Qantas stepped into the breach late in 2020 and seems to be making a decent go of it, operating up to 12 return flights a week between Perth and Hobart. Nevertheless, it’s good to see Virgin Australia re-entering the route and taking it up to Qantas.
Commencing October 29, Virgin Australia will operate three return Boeing 737-800 Perth – Hobart flights a week. On Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays, VA592 will push back from Perth (PER) at 09:30 and land in Hobart four hours and ten minutes later at 16:40.
Heading back to Perth, VA595 departs Hobart at 17:25 and will touch down in Perth at 19:15. The flying distance between the two cities is 1,877 miles (3,021 kilometers). This flight is also noteworthy because of its southerly tracking, flying deep into the Australian Bight.
Australia’s Airlines forced to look at previously neglected domestic routes
The ongoing lockdowns and travel restrictions are curbing airline traffic into Sydney and Melbourne. That is seeing long-neglected Tasmania get some love from Australia’s airlines. Whether it lasts once the lockdowns lift is anyone’s guess. However, this southern summer, Hobart and Launceston Airports will be better connected than ever before.
Virgin Australia is offering some tasty introductory fares on its two new Hobart routes. Flights to Adelaide start at AU$49. Fares for the longer-range flights to Perth start at AU$149. Both are outstanding value.
Meanwhile, the only capital city pair Hobart Airport remains unconnected with is Darwin. It would be neat to see Australia’s two smallest and most temperature extreme capital cities connected. But that might be a route too far for even the keenest airline.