Virgin Australia will be the first airline to depart on Brisbane’s new runway when it officially opens on Sunday, July 12, 2020. The airline found a new buyer after entering voluntary administration in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The A$1.1 billion privately funded runway project is the largest in the history of Brisbane Airport since its opening in 1988, and worth nearly as much as the initial cost of the airport when Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) bought it in 1997 for $1.38 billion. Creating the new runway took five decades of planning and eight years of construction.
BAC CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff, said the first departure by Virgin Australia would be a fitting way to mark Brisbane’s new runway as open for business.
“As our airport’s home carrier and an airline that has always shown great confidence in Brisbane and Queensland as a place to do business, I am delighted to have Virgin Australia fly the first departure from Brisbane’s new runway.
“COVID may have hampered some of our plans to mark this historic moment but, it certainly has not detracted from our pride and sense of accomplishment.
“The Virgin Australia staff are family here, and in these trying times for our industry it will be a particularly special moment to celebrate alongside them,” Mr de Graaff said.
To mark the anniversary of the very first flight between Brisbane and Tropical North Queensland by Barrier Reef Airways which took-off 73 years to the day on July,12 1947, Virgin Australia will operate a Boeing 737 aircraft between Brisbane and Cairns (CNS). Flight VA 781 will depart Brisbane for Cairns at 10:50am on Sunday, July 12.
Virgin Australia Group CEO and managing director, Paul Scurrah, said Queensland has been home to Virgin Australia for two decades and the new runway at Brisbane Airport will play an important part of its future plans.
“The runway opening is a turning point, not only for airlines such as Virgin Australia, but also for the broader tourism sector which has been hampered by the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re really looking forward to marking this special occasion with the first departure to Cairns as part of the 73rd anniversary of flights between Brisbane and Tropical North Queensland.”