They say you shouldn’t get back with your ex, but Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have decided to give their trans-Tasman relationship another chance.
Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will submit an application to enter into a unilateral codeshare agreement on trans-Tasman services. If approved, the arrangement would see Virgin flight numbers attached to Air New Zealand services between Australia and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The deal won’t work the other way around, however, with no Air New Zealand codeshares on Virgin-operated flights, for now.
Velocity frequent flyers would be able to earn Velocity points and status credits on the Kiwi carrier’s flights operated as a VA codeshare, as well as using their Velocity points to book selected Air New Zealand flights.
Status benefits would also see Velocity Gold and Platinum members given access to Air New Zealand airport lounges when flying between Australia and New Zealand.
The regulatory processes are expected to take up to six months, with Virgin hoping to launch a partnership with Air New Zealand in the first half of 2024. If approved, Virgin Australia is unlikely to enter the trans-Tasman market beyond their current services to Queenstown from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. The airline has previously struggled to gain traction across the ditch, whereas Air New Zealand has. The partnership would therefore help fill gaps in Virgin’s network, and allow the airline to focus on its Australian domestic services.
“This codeshare agreement would complement Virgin Australia’s popular direct Queenstown services by expanding our trans-Tasman footprint with a world-class partner airline our customers know and love,” says Virgin Australia Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Alistair Hartley.
Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand benefited from a longstanding partnership until October of 2018, when the flying Kiwi dumped Virgin for Qantas. Being Star Alliance and OneWorld carriers respectively, the move was unexpected but is limited to a codeshare on domestic flights within Australia and New Zealand.
A Virgin Australia source tells Flight Hacks that, if approved, the agreement is unlikely to affect the Qantas partnership. The new codeshare agreement would be unilateral and exclude Queenstown, an existing Virgin-operated route. Unlike the Qantas agreement, this partnership does not cover domestic services in either country, and Air New Zealand will not add its code to Virgin-operated flights.