Turns out Sir Richard Branson is just like the rest of us – spotted at a sushi train in Brisbane.
But this was no ordinary Japanese restaurant. Virgin Australia surprised travellers, transforming a baggage carousel at Brisbane Airport into a giant sushi train to officially announce their new flights to Japan.
The new route will be the airline’s first ever flights to Japan. Commencing in March next year it will fly between Brisbane Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. This is good news for flyers as Haneda Airport is just half an hour out of central Tokyo, whereas the city’s other international airport, Narita, is a good 90 minutes away.
Flanked by Japanese drummers and holding giant novelty chopsticks, Sir Branson announced the launch alongside Virgin Australia CEO, Paul Scurrah.
“I’ve been lucky enough to visit Japan many times and I know Virgin Australia is going to be welcomed there with open arms,” Branson said.
-The daily flights will be serviced by an Airbus 330-200
-The Airbus 330-200 has 20 Business Class seats and 255 Economy seats, including 8 Economy X seats.
-Tokyo Haneda will become Virgin Australia’s 13th international destination from Brisbane, which is the most international departures out of Brisbane of any airline.
-A new reciprocal codeshare and frequent flyer partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA) will provide guests travelling outbound from Australia access to 1,800 return flights to 38 points in Japan.
COMPETITION HEATS UP
While the new flight route is a first for Virgin, Qantas already operates flights from Sydney to Tokyo-Haneda, and Melbourne to Tokyo-Narita.
Jetstar, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways also fly direct between Australia and Tokyo.
So, the big question for travellers is, will Virgin entering the market add enough extra competition to result in cheaper flights? Well, the answer is ‘maybe’.
Time will tell, but precedent suggests that it certainly could. When Virgin launched its Melbourne to Hong Kong flights back in 2017, airfares from Australia had dropped by up to 40 per cent by the next year.
It’s been a big week for Virgin. Just days ago the company announced ticket sales for its much-anticipated Virgin Voyages cruises. The adults-only ship will have a tattoo parlour, a vinyl record store and Rockstar Suites with outdoor showers. Designed for people who “don’t like cruising”, the design is more like a boutique resort than a ship. Named Scarlet Lady, she will set sail in April next year.
Virgin Australia’s Tokyo flights will be on sale next month. Head to virginaustralia.com.au for more details.