Virgin Australia will be flying to Uluru for the first time ever from Melbourne and Brisbane.
The two new direct services will connect travellers to the iconic Aussie destination from June 6 and June 7 next year, respectively.
There will be four flights per week from Melbourne, while Brisbane will have three.
The airline flew from Sydney to Uluru prior to the pandemic, however it is yet to confirm when it will resume operations.
Qantas and Jetstar, both of which are part of the Qantas Group, were the only airlines with services to Uluru, before Virgin jumped back on-board.
Virgin’s new operations from the two major cities is expected help boost tourism for the Northern Territory.
The more than 62,2000 seats per year to the Red Centre will help support the growth of the Indigenous Tourism Sector, contributing to the territory’s more than $3 billion visitor expenditure.
The move is in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.
“Demand to Uluru is incredibly strong — driven by a wealth of amazing cultural experiences including the world-first $10 million cultural drone and storytelling experience, Wintjiri Wiri,” Matt Cameron-Smith, CEO of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia said.
To celebrate the network expansion, Virgin is having a huge sale with fares starting from $129 one-way in economy for travel between June 6, 2024 and September 12, 2024. It will be on until midnight AEST Wednesday, November 22 (or until sold out prior).
Ayers Rock Resort has also released a special Welcome Offer with stays from $150 per night at the Lost Camel Hotel – located just 20 minutes from Uluru.
“Uluru is a special place in Australia and a cultural landmark that identifies this wonderful country to the world,” Virgin Australia CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka said.
“We look forward to once again connecting Australians and international tourists alike, to the spiritual heartland of Australia.”
Ms Hrdlicka said the forecast demand from Melbourne and Brisbane, together with connectivity from its international partners, will help provide “a much-needed tourism boost in the region”.
According to the ABC, in October, Indigenous-run luxury tourism venture Voyages said the region was currently receiving “less than half the flights into Uluru than pre-pandemic” and that they were “working closely with our airline partners to resolve the recent further reductions” in flights.
As such, Virgin’s latest move has been long-awaited and welcomed by Voyages and the government.
“This exciting development was made possible with the Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme and Voyages’ strong partnership, which underpins the Territory’s Government’s commitment to develop aviation access throughout the Territory,” NT Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, Joel Bowden said.
“Today’s announcement will also increase connectivity for those international visitors travelling through Melbourne and Brisbane.”
The NT’s tourism minister Nicole Manison said there was a “social responsibility for all Australians to make sure they are travelling to the Northern Territory” to help improve economic outcomes for the jurisdiction, the ABC reported.
Aussie TV star Abbie Chatfield recently confessed her “sick obsession” with the popular Aussie destination.
In an exclusive interview with news.com.au, the former Bachelor contestant-turned media success story wished she had explored the Northern Territory sooner after a trip back in 2021 got her hooked.
“I went a couple of years ago to Darwin for the Bass In the Grass festival and we also did a helicopter pub crawl,” she said. “It was the best thing — and now anytime anyone is like ‘I want to go on holiday’ I am like ‘you have to go to the NT.”
Qantas also runs services between Uluru and Sydney, while Jetstar has flights from Uluru to Sydney, Melbourne, and a seasonal service to Brisbane.
Virgin will be the only airline to offer Business Class seats to Uluṟu.
At 348m high, Uluru is one of the world’s largest monoliths, towering over the surrounding landscape and some 550 million years old.
The Anangu are the traditional landowners of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.