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Virgin Blue Sets Sights On More Regional Qld Flights
Virgin Blue has revealed it will begin direct flights between Sydney and Hervey Bay in a move that is set to boost tourism in the Fraser Coast region.
Chief Executive Brett Godfrey joined Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and Hervey Bay Mayor Ted Sorensen to make the announcement today, confirming the airline’s steadfast commitment to offering more low fares and more flights to its home state.
It is the first time the airline has announced it will launch services to a destination that has an airport currently unable to handle a 737 aircraft.
Virgin Blue has promised its low fare flights to the region once the upgrade of the facility has been completed. Modifications, which are expected to be finished by June 2005, include the lengthening and strengthening of the runway to accommodate the jet service, as well as terminal enhancements.
Chief Executive Brett Godfrey, said, “We applaud Hervey Bay Council in making the proactive decision to upgrade the airport, as it allows us to respond to the lobbying and enthusiasm from the local business and tourism community, who have made it clear they want a jet service to and from their region.”
Virgin Blue will be the first ever commercial jet airline to service Hervey Bay and is confident the flights will take-off in the same way they have at its other regional Queensland ports such as Mackay, Proserpine, Rockhampton and Townsville.
Brett Godfrey continued, “The people of Fraser Coast have seen the impact Virgin Blue flights have had on other destinations and have witnessed how low fares stimulate tourism and business. People living in regional centres, including Hervey Bay, deserve to receive the same kind of affordable, efficient and high serviced airline option as those living in capital cities and we have every intention of bringing it to them.”
He added, “We would welcome an approach by any regional council who recognises the tremendous economic benefits of upgrading its airport to accommodate a high quality low fare jet service”.
Virgin Blue’s Hervey Bay flight will initially operate four times a week between Sydney and Hervey Bay on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with plans to go to a daily service by the end of 2005 if demand and support justifies the additional flights. Convenient connections will also be available to other southern ports including Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.
For Fraser Coast locals who may have moved to the region from other cities, it opens up a range of opportunities to visit family and friends down south, with the convenience of a direct service straight to the NSW capital. It will also be a plus for business travellers who will be able to enjoy the benefits of a fast and affordable flight.
It is also expected to entice tourists to the area, with flights commencing in July 2005 being just in time for visitors to witness the spectacular annual humpback whale migration.
“Hervey Bay itself has a lot to offer with its cosmopolitan cafés, relaxed promenade and whale watching opportunities but its close proximity to both Fraser and Lady Elliot Islands means it offers a number of holiday options whether it be for divers wanting to explore the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef or families wanting some sun, sand and sea-creatures. The region has remained relatively undiscovered by tourists compared to the more well known spots such as Cairns and the Whitsundays but we believe the new direct flights to the area will open new doors, bring more tourists and inject more money into the local economy”, Brett Godfrey finished.
Fares and schedules will be announced in early September and the airline will begin taking flight bookings at that time.