09 August 2020

Virgin Australia - Hamilton's last international air service

On the 7th of December 2011 Pacific Blue was rebranded as Virgin Australia and it inherited Pacific Blue's four times a week service between Brisbane and Hamilton. 

In March 2012 Virgin Australia decreased the number of flights between Hamilton and Brisbane from four to three a week due to softened demand. The company also indicated it would have to re-evaluate demand for the service if people didn't use it.

Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 ZK-PBJ at Hamilton in 2012

On the 14th of October 2012 Virgin Australia announced its intention to withdraw its Brisbane-Hamilton flights from the 27th of October 2012 due to a lack of demand. The route was being flown three times each week. Virgin Australia's New Zealand Executive General Manager, Mark Pitt, said, "Despite our support and our positive relationship with Hamilton Airport over the past three years, demand for this service has continued to deteriorate and the service is no longer sustainable. "Therefore, after careful consideration, we have made the decision to cease operating this service. Our last flight will be on 27 October." 

Part of the Virgin Australia fleet was Virgin Samoa's Boeing 737-800 ZK-PBF which is seen at Hamilton on 12 March 2012

Hamilton Airport CEO, Chris Doak, said the decision by Virgin Australia was disappointing for the region. "Virgin Australia has supported the region with their aircraft and has worked hard to connect with the local traveller. This was a decision that came down to passenger numbers. There just weren’t enough people using the services," he said. 

The final services were operated on the 26th and 27th of October 2012. Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 ZK-PBD operated inbound flight, PBN86, from Brisbane to Hamilton on the 26th of October 2012 and then on the 27th of October 2012 ZK-PBD operated the final flight, PBN85, from Hamilton to Brisbane. This marked the end of international flights to Hamilton.

Even though the airline was operating as Virgin Australia, the aircraft used at that time were still New Zealand registered and crewed. The transition to the aircraft being Australian registered happened long after Virgin Australia withdrew its Hamilton services.

Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 ZK-PBB on departure from Hamilton in 2012

These photos are 'borrowed' from Awesome in NZ's Flickr page, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/49222841@N06/
He has got some excellent photos, largely from Hamilton and Auckland around the early 2010s.
If you know who Awesome in NZ is and how to contact him can you let me know.

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