Air New Zealand breaks up with Virgin Australia: here is what you need to know

Guide to Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia & Qantas Frequent Flyer Airline Partners

GUIDE: Program Guide
DIFFICULTY: Easy
TIME TO READ: 9 minutes
POSTED: April 11, 2018
UPDATED: April 13, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Air New Zealand Airpoints
STATUS: Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia will end their trans-Tasman alliance in October 2018

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia will end their trans-Tasman alliance in October this year, following seven years of partnership. Neither airline will sell tickets on the other’s flights from 28 October 2018 and beyond, and that includes cash and award flights.

How will this affect me?

We encourage our readers to visit the Air New Zealand FAQ page for more information, with the airline answering questions like:

  • What does this mean for customers with existing bookings?
  • What will happen to Air New Zealand customers booked onto Virgin Australia flights?
  • Is Air New Zealand adding any new routes as a result of these changes?
  • Will I still receive lounge access and other premium customer benefits if I am booked onto a flight operated by Virgin Australia?

Virgin Australia have not provided any partnership update information on their website, but we’ll update this guide as soon as they do. It is likely that any changes for Air New Zealand customers booked on Virgin flights will be similar to that for Virgin customers booked to fly on Air New Zealand.

Both airlines have remained tightlipped about whether they will continue with any codesharing arrangements on the Australian and New Zealand domestic networks, simply stating that:

We are currently in discussions… regarding any ongoing arrangements relating to our respective domestic networks.

Air New Zealand do fly direct from New Zealand to most major Australian cities, including some smaller destinations such as Cairns and the Sunshine Coast. They have also announced extra flights to compensate for the loss of Virgin capacity. This should buffer the impact for most Kiwis. However Virgin Australia also have some obscure routes, such as the only international flight from Dunedin to Australia. It’s possible that this route may get axed.

The end of this partnership will have consequences for frequent flyers of both the Airpoints and Velocity programs, including the removal of the ability to earn and redeem points when flying with either airline, and the loss of status benefits such as lounge access.

Why this guide is important

Knowing your airline partnerships in advance of making firm travel plans allows you to consider and explore the best ways of getting yourself from A to B.

Doing a little research on the specific partners of Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Qantas can help you to understand where you can use your frequent flyer points in future (in the context of these being the biggest airlines that serve New Zealand/Australia, and have reasonable points earning opportunities here).

If you are new to the frequent flyer world (or need a refresher), you may consider signing up to our free email course to access expert information and tips.

The list of partners each program has is fairly extensive, so I’ve tried to list them all but also give a brief comment on their utility. Here is the full overview:


Air New Zealand Frequent Flyer partners

Star Alliance partner airlines

The airlines below are all Star Alliance members, and as a result you can use your Airpoints Dollars to fly with them.

It is also worth remembering the same is true of other Star Alliance member programs, specifically Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer, which you can also accrue points with from credit card spend on American Express in New Zealand.

  • Adria Airways
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China – to Beijing from Auckland, great redemption availability
  • Air India
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Avianca Brasil
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Shenzen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines – to Singapore from Auckland and Christchurch, and Singapore via Canberra from Wellington
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways – to Bangkok from Auckland, great redemption availability
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United – seasonal flights from Auckland to San Francisco

Singapore_A380

Singapore Airlines offers a great premium product and flies from three New Zealand cities to its hub in Singapore

Strategic Alliance agreements

Air New Zealand has Strategic Alliance agreements with select airlines that provide Airpoints members with the ability to earn and redeem Airpoints Dollars, and earn Status Points on select flights, and enjoy frequent flyer benefits on either carrier in some circumstances:

  • Cathay Pacific – Airpoints members can earn Airpoints Dollars when travelling on flights booked with an NZ or CX flight number between Auckland and Hong Kong, and spend Airpoints Dollars on the same route, even when operated by Cathay Pacific (but must be an NZ flight number). A one-way award from Auckland in Business Class will cost only 1,750APD. It’s unclear whether the same benefits will extend to the seasonal Cathay Pacific flights from Christchurch.
  • Virgin Australia, until 28 October 2018 – Airpoints members can earn and redeem Airpoints Dollars on any seat available for sale as an award ticket on an Air New Zealand flight number operated by Virgin Australia when travelling Trans-Tasman. You can also redeem on Australian domestic flights at partner rates. Full details on the alliance, included routes, elite benefits, and changes being made come October 2018 can be found here.
  • Air China, United and Singapore Airlines – Some network efficiencies between Air New Zealand and these airlines, however benefits are largely the same as under the Star Alliance network

Codeshare and frequent flyer agreements

Air New Zealand has codeshare and frequent flyer agreements with select airlines that enable Airpoints Dollars to be earned at partner rates however Status Points are not able to be earned on these flights. Airpoints Dollars can be redeemed on these flights.

Airpoints members can also enjoy some of their frequent flyer benefits on some of these code share flights booked with an Air New Zealand flight number.

  • Aerolíneas Argentinas – Air New Zealand fly to Buenos Aires, and are partnered with this airline for select onward connections. Airpoints members can earn Airpoints Dollars on codeshare flights (flight numbers starting with ‘NZ’) between Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, and spend Airpoints Dollars on the same routes (200/450APD one-way Economy/Business). Frequent flyer benefits are available.
  • Etihad Airways – Air New Zealand fly to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with onward codeshare connections with Etihad to Abu Dhabi, London, Dublin and Geneva. Airpoints Dollars redemptions available on same routes. Frequent flyer benefits are available
  • Virgin Atlantic – Codeshare on flights from San Francisco to London (NZ4162 and NZ4164) and vice versus (NZ4161 and NZ4163). Airpoints redemptions available for 565/1,690APD one-way Economy/Business. Frequent flyer benefits are available.
  • SilkAir – Singapore Airline’s regional wing. Air New Zealand codeshares on SE Asia routes. Airpoints members can earn Airpoints Dollars when booked with a flight number beginning with ‘MI’ (SilkAir) or ‘NZ’ (Air New Zealand), and redeem Airpoints Dollars for the same routes. Frequent flyer benefits are not available on SilkAir operated flights.

Codeshare and air share agreements

Air New Zealand also has codeshare and air share agreements with select airlines. Airpoints Dollars can be claimed for travel on some of these flights when booked with an Air New Zealand flight number, however Airpoints Dollars cannot be used for redemptions. Status Points are not able to be earned on any of these flights. Lounge access is available in some circumstances, but no other Airpoints frequent flyer benefits are available on these flights.

Why you have to use the Airpoints claim form to get your Airpoints Dollars is beyond me (especially if these are booked through the Air New Zealand website), but perhaps there is a technical reason for this. Make sure you retain your boarding pass and booking details for these flights.

  • Aircalin – Airpoints members on flights booked with an Air New Zealand flight number (NZ312 or NZ313) operated by Aircalin can claim Airpoints Dollars. These are flights between Auckland and Noumea. Lounge benefits are also available.
  • Fiji Airways – Airpoints members on flights booked with an Air New Zealand flight number (NZ4010 or NZ4011) operated by Fiji Airways can claim Airpoints Dollars. These are flights between Los Angeles and Nadi. Lounge benefits are available in Los Angeles and Nadi for Elite and Gold Airpoints members.
  • Air Rarotonga – no benefits, not even Airpoints Dollar earn.
  • Air Tahiti Nui – Airpoints members on flights booked with an Air New Zealand flight number (NZ314, NZ315, NZ4082, NZ4081, NZ4092 or NZ4091) operated by Air Tahiti Nui are able to claim Airpoints Dollars. These are routes between Auckland, Tahiti and Los Angeles. Lounge benefits are available in Auckland and Papeete for Elite and Gold Airpoints members, regardless of booking class, and Los Angeles only if you’re booked in Business Class.
  • Air Vanuatu – codeshare agreement currently suspended due to cancelled flights (concerns about runway conditions)

Standalone airline agreement

Air New Zealand have a standalone agreement with Jet Airways. This agreement allows Airpoints members to earn Airpoints Dollars at partner rates, however Status Points are not able to be earned. Airpoints members can also spend Airpoints Dollars on Jet Airways flights. No other frequent flyer benefits are available on these flights.


Velocity Frequent Flyer partners

Virgin Australia have the following airlines as their primary partners for Velocity earn and redeem opportunities:

  • HNA Group airlines: you can now earn Velocity points on all flights operated by Hong Kong Airlines, and flights between Australia/New Zealand and Hong Kong/Greater China as well as domestic Chinese flights operated by Hainan Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines; expect to be able to redeem Velocity points on these airlines and for elite Velocity members to enjoy reciprocal benefits sometime in the second half of 2017
  • Singapore Airlines & SilkAir: for travel to Singapore and onto Asia, Europe and North America; effective immediately, you can now redeem your Velocity points for travel in First and Suites Class (instead of having to transfer them to KrisFlyer); from 31 August 2017, you will also be able to redeem your Velocity points for travel in Premium Economy (meaning that all classes are available for redemption)

You can now redeem your Velocity points for First and Suites Class travel on Singapore Airlines

  • Etihad: to the Middle East and Europe; Velocity’s only partner that allows First Class redemptions but beware of the Etihad Airways Reward Seat Carrier Charge (see notes on Table 2)
  • Delta: to and within the US; Velocity status holders from Silver above will earn bonus points not only on Delta-operated flights with a Virgin flight number but also on Delta- and Virgin-operated flights with a Delta flight number
  • Air New Zealand, until 28 October 2018: Velocity members can earn or redeem points for seats on AirNZ domestic and Trans-Tasman flights
  • Virgin Atlantic: long-haul travel to/from London, the US and some Asia and African destinations but be careful of high fuel surcharges
  • Hawaiian Airlines: to Hawaii and onto North America
  • airberlin: to Europe from Abu Dhabi, and within Europe from their German hubs. Given they have filed for insolvency however it is expected that the earn/redeem opportunities will disappear, if they haven’t already.
  • Virgin America: from 30 September 2017, Velocity members will no longer be able to earn or redeem points on or for Virgin America flights and elite status holders will lose reciprocal benefits

Other partners include Virgin Samoa, Alitalia and South African Airways. Virgin Samoa will disappear on November 12, with the void likely replaced by Virgin Australia flights.


Qantas Frequent Flyer partners

oneworld partner airlines

The airlines below are all oneworld members, and as a result you can use your Qantas Points to fly with them.

It is also worth remembering the same is true of other oneworld member programs, specifically Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, which you can also accrue points with from credit card spend in Australia.

The most used oneworld partners are:

  • Qantas: to Australia and onwards to Asia, North America, Europe and Africa. They fly from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
  • Cathay Pacific & Cathay Dragon: to Hong Kong and onto Greater China, Europe, North America and Russia. They fly year-round from Auckland, and seasonally from Christchurch

Cathay Pacific offers a good premium product and flies from two New Zealand cities to its hub in Hong Kong

  • American Airlines: to Los Angeles and onto and within North America; between North America and Europe. Seasonal flights from Auckland.
  • Japan Airlines: to Tokyo and onto Asia, the US and Europe
  • Qatar Airways: to Doha and onto Europe, North America and Africa. Flights from Auckland.
  • Malaysia Airlines: to Malaysia and onto Southeast Asia and London. Flights from Auckland.
  • Finnair: has connecting operations with Qantas, Cathay and British Airways via Southeast Asia to Helsinki and onto Europe
  • British Airways: to Singapore and London for a wide range of onward connections into Europe; watch high fuel surcharges
  • LATAM: for direct flights from Auckland to Santiago and onto South America, and also to Sydney.

Lesser-known oneworld partners are:

  • airberlin: serving a wide range of destinations in Europe from German ports, and also into Germany from Abu Dhabi. Given they have filed for insolvency however it is expected that the earn/redeem opportunities will disappear, if they haven’t already.
  • Royal Jordanian: some intra-Asia flights, e.g. Hong Kong to Bangkok, plus Middle East and into Europe from Jordan
  • Iberia: for travel from Spain to The Americas
  • Sri Lankan: direct Melbourne – Colombo flight recommences 30 October 2017; access to South Asia and some other light intra-Asia routes
  • S7: connections into Russia from Frankfurt

Bilateral partner airlines

Qantas also partner with a few non-oneworld airlines:

  • Jetstar: of course, as a Qantas-owned airline; Qantas points is the only way to use and earn points to fly on Jetstar New Zealand. We’re very lucky here because every flight with Jetstar domestically in New Zealand will earn at least 400 points, whereas this is not the case for Jetstar in Australia and elsewhere
  • Emirates: for flights to Australia, Southeast Asia, Dubai and onward throughout its very extensive network

Redemptions in Emirates Business (or First) Class is a great use of Qantas points

  • Fiji Airways: to Fiji and onto Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii
  • Alaska Airlines: from Hawaii to the US mainland and within the US
  • China Eastern: Flights direct from Auckland to Shanghai, how unfortunately status tier benefits not recognised on flights from New Zealand. Points will still be earned.
  • Air Niugini: Flights from Auckland to Port Vila
  • Air Vanuatu
  • airnorth
  • Aer Lingus
  • Jet Airways
  • South African Airways
  • EL AL
  • WestJet

In all cases for the above list, this means they allow points redemptions on these airlines, and sometimes also codeshare with them – where your flight number will begin with QF, but operated by the partner, not Qantas. This is helpful as you’ll earn more Qantas Points and Status Credits on these flights, but potentially at an additional cost when booking through Qantas.

Summing up

It’s not surprising that both Air New Zealand and Qantas have a wider range of partners than Velocity, given their long-standing Star Alliance and oneworld memberships.

Having said that, using points on partners is still a great way to get good value out of your points in any of these programs.

Some routes and classes of travel are only available if you redeem on a partner, and knowing the partners and their route networks will stand you in good stead when you come to researching availability and looking for opportunities to use your points down the track.

Watch out for the changes in October 2018 to the Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia partnership.


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Air New Zealand breaks up with Virgin Australia: here is what you need to know was last modified: April 13th, 2018 by Matt Moffitt
Air New Zealand breaks up with Virgin Australia: here is what you need to know was last modified: April 13th, 2018 by Matt Moffitt