Velocity membership surges 50 per cent in nine months as Virgin eyes new international partnerships
“People feel safe because they came straight back to Velocity as travel resumed.”
With 10.7 million members, the Velocity program has now exceeded pre-virus participation levels. In 2019 – the year before Virgin tipped into administration and was taken over by US private equity group Bain Capital – the program had about 9.8 million members.
Velocity still lags Qantas’ frequent flyer program, however, which had nearly 13.6 million members at the end of the 2021 financial year.
Mr Rohrlach – a former Qantas executive whose appointment to the top job at Velocity was the subject of court challenges in Australia and Singapore from the national carrier – did not put the recent influx of members down to concerns about Qantas’ reliability over the past couple of months.
“We don’t specifically track exactly why they’re coming back,” he said. “But I think the news that has come out of Virgin around new destinations, lower fares and our service is resonating generally.
“There is a lot of confidence in flying Virgin and what we offer.”
Mr Rohrlach said Velocity had filled out its international airline partnerships with Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Qatar Airways, United Airlines.
This offers members a chance to redeem points on 550 international routes, he said, and was a suitable short-term substitute for a long-haul network as Virgin mulls its own options on that front.
“We did have long-haul flights to the US pre-pandemic, but there is no way we could have gone to all these destinations ourselves, so we definitely wanted those partners.”
He said the current partners formed most of Virgin’s international airline links, but there were more on the cards in the near future.
“We’ve got most of the options that Australians want to travel too. There’s probably just a couple of places left that we’d like to include, so we will keep filling those gaps.”