LONDON – Virgin Australia has capped off a huge year, announcing a new international route with a daily return Cairns-Tokyo (Haneda) service taking off on 28 June 2023.
The highly anticipated route, operating for the first time, is being launched in partnership with the Queensland Government and Cairns Airport through the Queensland Government’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund.
The route will be serviced by the airline’s narrowbody Boeing 737-8 aircraft.
Virgin Australia comments
Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive Officer, Jayne Hrdlicka said the announcement of Virgin Australia’s new Cairns-Haneda service wraps up a huge year for the airline, which has significantly expanded its short-haul international network over the last year.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
A boost for Queensland tourism
Queensland Minister for Tourism, Stirling Hinchliffe said Virgin Australia’s direct service from Haneda to Cairns 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.”
Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer, Richard Barker said Virgin Australia’s direct flights from Haneda will significantly boost the number of Japanese tourists visiting Tropical North Queensland.
“Today’s announcement is a huge development for our region’s tourism industry and economy as we continue our post-COVID recovery.”
“It is also further evidence that long-range, narrow body aircraft such as the 737-8 are game changers for our region, bringing destinations such as Japan closer with more cost-effective and fuel-efficient operations,” he said.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Chief Executive Officer, Mark Olsen said the connection to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport was the key to growing international travel to Cairns as it delivered connectivity and consistency through a trusted brand.
“Virgin Australia will fly daily from 28 June and is in partnership with ANA, the Japanese carrier that taps into national travel trends coming in and out of Japan through the airport that frequent Japanese travellers are used to travelling through,” he said.
“Our tourism industry is very excited about this connection as are our Japanese trade partners who sell Cairns as the closest gateway to Australia with just one-hour time difference and summer all year round.”
Partnership with ANA
To further bolster flight access between Australia and Japan, Virgin Australia will strengthen its strategic partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA), the largest airline in Japan and a trusted and long-standing Japanese carrier, creating greater value and choice for the airline’s customers.
The partnership will not only see Virgin Australia and ANA provide members of the airline’s Velocity and ANA Mileage Club frequent flyer programs reciprocal loyalty benefits throughout 2023 and beyond when travelling on each carrier, but greater codeshare flight access between the countries.
This announcement wraps up an extraordinary year for Virgin Australia which returned to profitability following completion of the first stage of the airline’s transformation program and recently celebrated Velocity’s 11-million member milestone.
Since international borders re-opened 12 months ago, the airline has resumed flights to Bali, Fiji, and Queenstown, with Vanuatu, Samoa and Tokyo commencing in the first half of 2023.
Today the airline also celebrates the first flight from Adelaide to Bali departing at 5:50pm local time, with plans to commence Australia’s first ever Gold Coast to Bali service on 29 March 2023.