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The Virgin Australia Group of Airlines today announced the first routes for its new ATR aircraft, under its regional alliance with Skywest (subject to regulatory approval).
From October 2011 the airline will commence new services from Brisbane to Gladstone and Brisbane to Port Macquarie and add extra services between Canberra and Sydney, bringing the total number of flights between the two cities to 60 each week.
Virgin Australia’s Group Executive of Alliances, Network and Yield, Merren McArthur, said 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,” Ms. McArthur said.
Ms. McArthur said 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 the Embraer E170 aircraft. The ATR 72-500 aircraft will operate:
Ms McArthur said the introduction of the ATR aircraft represented a new era in Australian regional air travel.
“The 68-seater one class turbo-prop 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 quality inflight product and service.
The new aircraft fleet will be leased from specialist leasing company Avation PLC (LSE: AVAP), with an initial term of 10 years.