Virgin Australia Airlines (NZ)

Virgin Australia Airlines (NZ) Limited formerly Pacific Blue Airlines (NZ) Limited,[1] was an airline based in New Zealand. It was established as the New Zealand subsidiary of Australian airline Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia). It was a fully owned subsidiary of Virgin Australia Holdings. It was renamed Virgin Australia Airlines (NZ) Ltd in December 2011 when its parent company decided to bring all its airlines under the one banner.[2]

Virgin Australia (NZ)
IATA ICAO Callsign
DJ/VA PBN/VOZ BLUEBIRD/VELOCITY
Founded2003 (2003)[1]
Commenced operations29 January 2004 (2004-01-29)
Ceased operationsJune 2020 (2020-06)
HubsAuckland
Secondary hubsChristchurch
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer programVelocity Rewards
AllianceAir New Zealand (formerly)
Fleet size10
Destinations16
Parent companyVirgin Australia Holdings
HeadquartersChristchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Key people
Websitevirginaustralia.com
The former livery of a Pacific Blue Boeing 737-800 at Auckland Airport in 2005
In the new livery, a 737-800 on approach to Brisbane Airport in 2012

It was based at Christchurch and Auckland[3] and operated air services between New Zealand and Australia as well as the Pacific Islands. It also operated services on behalf of Virgin Samoa (formerly known as Polynesian Blue).

The airline has brought all its flying under its parent VA Air Operating Certificate. The final New Zealand registered Pacific Blue aircraft ZK-PBL finished up flying 13 March 2015 as VA161 AKL-BNE, bringing a visible end to Pacific Blue and being renamed to Virgin Australia NZ (VANZ). With the withdrawal of ZK-PBL, the New Zealand register connection ended after 11 years of aircraft on the New Zealand register from January 23, 2004, to March 14, 2015.[4]

HistoryEdit

The airline was established in 2003 and started operations on 29 January 2004 with a service between Christchurch and Brisbane, Australia.[5]

On 1 August 2007, the ICAO code was changed from PBI to PBN. This was done in consultation with air traffic controllers to prevent confusion between the letter I and the number 1 in flight plans.

On 21 August 2007, Pacific Blue announced its intention to begin domestic services in New Zealand[6] with the first flights commencing 12 November 2007. The initial routes were AucklandWellington, Christchurch–Wellington and Auckland–Christchurch. Later Christchurch to Dunedin flights started.

Pacific Blue announced its rollout of Premium economy seating across its fleet from March 2010 to match that of its sister Virgin Blue. Premium Economy is the front three rows of each aircraft – fitted with a unique red leather converter seat that folds from three abreast to two abreast when used in Premium Economy configuration.

On 16 August 2010, it was announced that Pacific Blue would be withdrawing from the New Zealand domestic market, with aircraft being reallocated to tran-tasman and medium-haul routes.[7]

The last Pacific Blue domestic New Zealand service was operated on 17 October 2010, from Wellington to Auckland.

Pacific Blue was renamed Virgin Australia Airlines (NZ) Ltd in December 2011, as part of a unification of the company's holdings under a common brand.

In March 2015, the last New Zealand registered Virgin 737 ZK-PBL was withdrawn and placed on the Australian register, ending over 11 years of New Zealand AOC operations. All aircraft were distributed between Virgin Australia's domestic and international arms on the VH register.

VANZ Auckland and Christchurch based pilots and cabin crew continued to fly the same routes and some of the same aircraft under the Virgin Australia International Airlines air operator certificate.

On 3 April 2020 amid the Coronavirus outbreak and worldwide lockdowns, Virgin Australia closed its New Zealand bases leaving all 208 pilots and over 300 cabin crew redundant.[8][9]

The affected unions (NZALPA and E Tu) were highly critical of this decision and the consultation that proceeded it, as Virgin would not provide any meaningful information for counter proposals to be formulated.[8][9]

DestinationsEdit

The airline operated scheduled passenger services between New Zealand and Australia; and to the Pacific Islands.[10] New Zealand served airports are: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. Formerly Hamilton was served from Brisbane services ended in October 2012.[11] International destinations served are: Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Nadi, Port Vila, Apia–Faleolo, Nuku'alofa, Rarotonga and Sydney. Formerly Cairns (ex Auckland), Port Moresby, and Honiara (both ex Brisbane) were served.

FleetEdit

The fleet consisted of nine Boeing 737 aircraft, which were registered in New Zealand. The airline's Boeing 737s were all former Pacific Blue aircraft. The nine aircraft were registered ZK-PBA, PBB, PBD, PBG, PBI, PBJ, PBK, PBL, and PBM.[12] Out of Pacific Blue's 10-strong Boeing 737 fleet, nine continued to fly for Virgin Australia NZ , while ZK-PBC was retired before Virgin Australia NZ was established.[13]


Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers
(Economy)
Boeing 737-800 9
176 (168 economy + 8 business class)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "VIRGIN AUSTRALIA AIRLINES (NZ) LIMITED ARBN 107 549 851". connectonline.asic.gov.au. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Virgin Australia rebrands its Pacific carriers". New Zealand Herald. 8 December 2011.
  3. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 30 March-5 April 2004. "Virgin Blue" 50.
  4. ^ Buchanan, Craig (14 March 2015). "VA(NZ) the (visible) end". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  5. ^ "Pacific Blue adds new trans-Tasman service". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 November 2003.
  6. ^ Pacific Blue Begins New Domestic Services In New Zealand
  7. ^ "THE VIRGIN BLUE GROUP OF AIRLINES ANNOUNCES FIRST PHASE OF NETWORK REVIEW" (Press release). Virgin Blue Holdings. 16 August 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  8. ^ a b Tuckey, Karoline (5 April 2020). "Loss of 600 jobs as Virgin Australia shuts its NZ operations". Radio New Zealand.
  9. ^ a b Scott Palmer, Edward O'Driscoll (4 April 2020). "Union 'hugely disappointed' Virgin Australia axing New Zealand bases". Newshub.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ Virgin Australia: Destinations guides
  11. ^ Hamilton loses last international flight New Zealand Herald. 14 August 2012.
  12. ^ https://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/Virgin%20Australia%20NZ-history-b737ng.htm
  13. ^ https://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/Pacific%20Blue-history-b737ng.htm

External linksEdit