Virgin will fly up to four return services a week between Melbourne and Uluru from June 6, 2024 and three return services a week from Brisbane, from June 7.
Prior to the pandemic, Virgin operated a Sydney-Uluru service.
This is a major win for the domestic and international business events industry, with Uluru being a key incentive destination, particularly internationally, as well as offering significant event space for conferencing.
The new Uluru flights, which are the result of a collaboration between Virgin, the Northern Territory Government and Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, who operate Ayers Rock Resort, have the capacity to bring up to 5,400 visitors additional to Uluru each month.
“Uluru is a special place in Australia and a cultural landmark that identifies this wonderful country to the world. We look forward to once again connecting Australians and international tourists alike, to the spiritual heartland of Australia,” said Virgin Australia CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka.
“We are also proud to be offering direct flights to Uluṟu from Melbourne and Brisbane for the first time. The forecast demand from these cities, coupled with excellent connectivity from our international airline partners, will provide a much-needed tourism boost to the region. Greater competition in the market and more seat capacity to Uluru will also provide travellers with more choice and value next time they fly to the Red Centre.”
Currently, Qantas operates flights between Sydney and Uluru five days a week and a seasonal service between Cairns and Uluru. Jetstar offers direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney.
Earlier this year, the ABC reported that it had seen Parks Australia data which showed a huge drop in visitation to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, in which Uluru is located, in 2023 compared to before the pandemic.
As one of the biggest winners from the launch of the new flights, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is ‘thrilled’ with Virgin’s return to the central Australia destination.
“Whether it’s still on the bucket list or a much-loved destination, visiting Uluru is a must-do for international and Australian travellers alike,” said Voyages CEO, Matt Cameron-Smith.
“These new routes deliver more choice for travel to the NT, but also an abundance of convenient international connections throughout Virgin Australia’s global network of partners. We can’t wait to roll out the red carpet for Virgin Australia’s return to the Red Centre.”
Ayers Rock Resort features a swathe of event spaces within its vast complex, in addition to incredible experiential dinner venues and incentive experiences around Uluru. Longitude 131, by Baille Lodges nearby is also a strong incentive product.
The Northern Territory’s tourism and hospitality minister Joel Bowden said it was an “exciting development” for the NT.
“Uluru is a must-do destination and a preferred destination for our international markets. Today’s announcement will also increase connectivity for those international visitors travelling through Melbourne and Brisbane.”
The NT Government’s Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme played a role in securing the additional flights to Uluru.