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Woah: Virgin Australia to launch a 8-hour B737MAX flight to Tokyo!

Virgin Australia has announced a new route which may be the world’s longest Boeing B737MAX route. The airline will operate flights between Cairns and Tokyo starting June 2023.

Japan bound!

Starting 28th June 2023, Virgin Australia will operate a daily flight between Cairns Airport and Tokyo Haneda Airport with the following schedule:

  • Cairns-Tokyo Haneda
  • Departure time: 13:15
  • Arrival time: 20:00
  • Flight time: 7 hours and 45 minutes
  • Flight number: VA77
  • Frequency: Daily
  • Tokyo Haneda-Cairns
  • Departure time: 21:45
  • Arrival time: 06:15 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 7 hours and 30 minutes
  • Flight number: VA78
  • Frequency: Daily

These flights will be operated by the airline’s Boeing B737MAX-8 aircraft featuring Business Class seats, Economy X (extra-legroom Economy Class seats) and standard Economy Class seats. Flights from Australia to Japan are now on sale. Flights in the other direction will be on sale starting January 2023.

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. 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.

said Jayne Hrdlicka, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Australia Group.

The 3,627 mile-route is being launched in partnership with the Queensland Government and Cairns Airport through the Queensland Government’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund.

Japan is an important part of our inbound international tourism recovery plan for iconic destinations like Cairns and Tropical North Queensland. 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.

said Stirling Hinchliffe, Minister for Tourism, Queensland.

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Economy Class passengers will be able to enjoy food from the airline’s Buy-On-Board menu, with a selection of popular Australian and Japanese fresh and packaged food items available for purchase. Pillows, blankets and amenity kits – which include an eye mask, ear plugs, drawstring bag and a pen – will be available onboard for purchase for Economy Class passengers.

Passengers travelling in Business Class will also enjoy a complimentary pillow, blanket and amenity kit as well as toothbrush, toothpaste, socks and hand cream.

Inflight entertainment will be available on-board. In-flight Wi-Fi will be available the entire flight. Wi-Fi is complimentary to Velocity Platinum, Beyond Lounge members and Business Class guests. Economy and Economy X guests will need to pay a fee ranging from AUD$9.95 for a 30-minute pass to AUD$24.95 for the full flight pass.

The airline will provide easy connectivity from key markets such as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for onward travel to Tokyo. In addition to this, same-day connections to Adelaide and Perth for passengers returning from Tokyo will be available.

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.

said Richard Barkar, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Australia.

To celebrate the announcement, Virgin Australia has launched a ‘Hello Tokyo’ sale with return fares from as low as $699 Economy Lite return, on sale until midnight 20th December 2022 or until sold out.

Strengthening partnership with All Nippon Airways

To further bolster flight access between Australia and Japan, Virgin Australia is strengthening its partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA), the largest airline in Japan. 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.

As a strategic and significant partner to ANA, we are excited for Virgin Australia’s inaugural flight to Haneda that enhances our commercial partnership. We are delighted to welcome passengers with the mutual goal of both airlines serving as the bridge between Australia and Japan with the highest levels of customer service and offering unique customer experiences in the two countries.

said Junichiro Miyagawa, EVP of Alliances and International Affairs, All Nippon Airways.

Will the ride be comfortable?

The outbound flight from Australia is blocked at 7 hours and 45 minutes while the inbound flight is blocked at 7 hours and 30 minutes. That’s a lot for a Boeing B737MAX-8. Jetstar currently operates on Cairns-Tokyo Narita route which clocks around 7 hours of flying time.

Virgin Australia has four B737MAX-8s on order which will start arriving February 2023 onwards. These aircraft will feature upgraded Business and Economy Class seats. Now, we don’t know of what type the seats will be. We can expect the airline to install lie-flat seats in Business Class, provided if the B737MAX-8s will be tasked to perform medium-haul flights regularly.

As aforementioned, Virgin Australia will compete with Jetstar on Cairns-Tokyo route. The latter operates the flights with Boeing B787-8 Dreamliners. It will be interesting to see how the airline will enhance the passenger experience in any area, be it the onboard service or the hard product, in order to compete with Jetstar on this route.

Featured image by Virgin Australia

What do you think of Virgin Australia launching flights between Cairns and Tokyo Haneda? Let me know in the comments section below.

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