Virgin Australia announces Auckland-Newcastle route

For the first time in 16 years, travellers will be able to fly directly between Auckland and Newcastle in Australia, as Virgin Australia (VA) launches a new direct service.

The airline will operate three return services between the two cities each week from late November through to mid-February.

That's less than a month after VA and Air New Zealand end their partnership - both airlines appear to be ramping up competition with each other after their split.

"This new route demonstrates our commitment to the trans-Tasman market. We are proud to connect people and destinations and support tourism between Auckland and Newcastle," says Russell Shaw of VA.

"Newcastle is a fantastic destination in its own right, but is also an important gateway to the Hunter Valley wine region, the Central Coast's pristine beaches and a short drive to Sydney. We look forward to opening up this seamless international travel experience for passengers flying from Auckland."

VA's Auckland-Newcastle flights launch on November 22 and are on sale now, starting at NZ$169 one way.