Posted on: 28 July 2011 by Ross McSweeny
The Virgin Australia Group of Airlines has revealed that the first routes for its new ATR aircraft, under its regional alliance with Skywest, will begin in October with flights from Brisbane to Gladstone and Brisbane to Port Macquarie plus extra services between Canberra and Sydney, bringing the total number of flights between the two cities to 60 a week.
Virgin Australia’s group executive of alliances, network and yield, Merren McArthur, remarked that the introduction of the new routes of Brisbane to Gladstone and Brisbane to Port Macquarie reflected the airline’s commitment to the expansion of its regional network.
“We are adding services to two unique regional markets to provide guests with more choice and more convenient schedules to connect with our domestic and international services and partner airlines. Gladstone is a booming city with a thriving economy that supports the resources, tourism and primary production sectors. We have introduced a schedule to suit both the corporate and leisure traveller in this very important market,” McArthur declared.
She added that the daily services from Brisbane to Port Macquarie on New South Wales’ mid-north coast meant guests no longer need to transit via Sydney when visiting Queensland. The services also provide access to Virgin Australia’s extensive range of international and domestic connections from Brisbane. Virgin Australia will now operate Sydney to Port Macquarie services using the new ATR aircraft, replacing Embraer 170s.
The ATR 72-500 aircraft will operate: double daily weekday return Brisbane to Gladstone; daily return Brisbane to Port Macquarie; double daily Sydney to Port Macquarie; and up to six daily return services between Sydney to Canberra.
McArthur said the introduction of the ATR aircraft represented a new era in Australian
regional air travel. “The 68-seater one class turboprop aircraft is spacious and stylish in keeping with Virgin Australia’s new business model. The first two ATR aircraft are named after the Far North Queensland beaches – Mission Beach and Four-Mile Beach.”
Under the alliance, Skywest will operate and maintain the aircraft on behalf of Virgin Australia using Virgin Australia’s branding and inflight product and service. The new aircraft fleet will be leased from specialist leasing company Avation with an initial term of 10 years.