COMMENT

Virgin Australia's piggy back on Air New Zealand's smart publicity campaign around the Impossible Burger is clever, and a sign of much meatier fodder to come.

The Australian carrier has taken a pop at the Kiwi airline's synthetic offering to business class passengers flying to Los Angeles by appealing to New Zealand meat producers to supply its transtasman flights.

"You'll probably never believe it, but over the Ditch lies one of New Zealand's biggest fans. They go by the name of Virgin Australia," the social media campaign says.

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The appeal to the Kiwi farming heartland is tongue in cheek but its timing is interesting and has more serious undertones.

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia are meant to be mates, until October 28 that is. That's when they go their separate ways in what is shaping as a messy divorce.

In early April, Air New Zealand surprised Virgin by pulling the pin on what had been deep commercial alliance of the past seven years, citing concerns about product consistency and its desire go its own way flying across the Tasman.

Virgin Australia immediately fired back, announcing new services to Queenstown and Melbourne as part of a 13 per cent increase in capacity across the Tasman which it has since added to next summer, including a new Auckland-Newcastle services.

It has also not ruled out flying Tigerair across the Tasman which, because of its low brand recognition here, would probably please Air New Zealand which has also announced plans to fly more across the Ditch.

Virgin Australia's highlighting that a ''udderly delicious bespoke dish'' is on the way is significant — the airline will be lifting its game on the food front and other cabin products.

Nobody at Air New Zealand was expecting Virgin Australia would go away.

Taking a bite at the Impossible Burger is another sign that it still wants to have its fill here.

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