Virgin Australia removes Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch 'for the time being' due to 'subdued' demand

The airline still intends to operate flights to and from Queenstown.
The airline still intends to operate flights to and from Queenstown. Photo credit: Getty Images

Virgin Australia has removed Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch from its online booking engine, leaving Queenstown as their only likely New Zealand destination in the near future.

The change is one of many made by Virgin Australia Group about its short-haul international network in response to shifting international border projections.

In a statement, the airline sighted recent forecasts released in this week's Australian Federal budget for the aviation sector, including for international travel, where visitation is expected to remain low until at least mid-2022. 

As a result, Virgin Australia said it would defer most short-haul international flying, including to Fiji and Indonesia, until at least December 2021.

However, the airline will continue to operate Boeing 737 services between Sydney- Queenstown and Brisbane-Queenstown, as planned from September 18 2021, and Melbourne-Queenstown services from December 7 2021.

The airline said "subdued" demand for other New Zealand destinations led to the decision to defer resuming services to other centres, alongside services to Vanuatu, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

The decision allows Virgin Australia to put all of its resources and focus onto the increasingly competitive Australian domestic market. 

The airline recently went head-to-head with expanding regional airline Rex on the Sydney-Melbourne route, offering $39 airfares.