Best Airline Australia Pacific
Best Airline Staff Service Australia Pacific
1 November 2007: Port Macquarie, Australia: Virgin Blue Airlines today announced it will launch flights to the New South Wales city of Port Macquarie from February next year^, following an extensive year long review of more than 21 airports around Australia.
The airline made the announcement and launched $69* launch fares between Port Macquarie and Sydney, during a flying visit to the city with the brand new EMBRAER E-170 jet aircraft that will be used on the new route.
Virgin Blue recently took delivery of the first of 20 of the Brazilian manufactured aircraft which will give the airline the opportunity to start flying to more regional Australia destinations, such as Port Macquarie.
The flight was greeted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport & Regional Services and local MP Mark Vaile and Port Macquarie-Hastings Mayor, Councillor Rob Drew.
Mr Vaile congratulated Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Virgin Blue Airlines on working together to establish a long term commitment to the region.
“As Virgin Blue enters the Port Macquarie market, air travellers will not only get a more competitive environment but further opportunities will undoubtedly come about as Council pursues the full upgrade of the airport,” Mr Vaile said.
“Virgin Blue is undertaking a significant expansion of its fleet. They recognise the benefits associated with growing regional routes like Port Macquarie and they have worked closely with council and the community in coming to a mutually beneficial outcome for its long term commitment to our region,” Mr Vaile added.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey, said, “We are excited to announce Port Macquarie as our first new destination to benefit from the introduction of the E-Jet to our fleet family. Our team has conducted extensive research and site visits to determine the most appropriate new destinations for our network and those ideally suited to these aircraft. Port Macquarie is a fantastic choice due to its airport terminal facilities, the need for competition, tourism growth opportunities and its supportive and enthusiastic council.”
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has agreed to upgrade its runway to accommodate the E-Jet services in the long term as the aircraft are larger than the turbo prop aircraft currently servicing the city. Virgin Blue’s E-170 has 78 seats while the slightly larger E-190 has 104 seats.
Virgin Blue will launch flights between Sydney and Port Macquarie from 4 February 2008 with a direct daily service. A special launch fare is now available of $69* one-way on the internet and is on sale until Friday 16 November for travel between 4 February to 15 March 2008 and 29 April to 26 June 2008. Everyday low fares will start from $109, up to 20% lower than the existing fares on offer in the market today.
Brett Godfrey continued, “This will be the first time that the people of Port Macquarie and surrounds will have a jet aircraft service. The E-Jet is an outstanding aircraft, very much like an executive jet, which offers travellers a quiet, comfortable ride, two abreast seating and a quick flying time between Port Macquarie and Sydney of just 40 minutes.”
He added, “We are looking forward to bringing some serious competition to the Greater Port Macquarie region and generating lower airfares and more tourism and business opportunities in the same way we have done with other regional centres such as Coffs Harbour.”
Virgin Blue will announce other new E-Jet destinations in coming weeks and months, with a number of centres under consideration for future Virgin Blue services. The remaining EMBRAER jets will be delivered to Virgin Blue over the next 18 months generating more opportunities for additional new ports.
The Virgin Blue team flew in to Port Macquarie especially to make the announcement and offer a “meet and greet” of the E-Jet to members of the Port Macquarie business and tourism communities. Team members dressed up as Robin Hood, Maid Marion and the Merry Men, highlighting the message that Virgin Blue will be coming to the region to steal from the rich (our fair share of passengers from the other airline) and give to the Port Macquarie community in the way of affordable fares and robust airline competition that it has been deprived of until now.
Brett Godfrey said, “We anticipate the competition will be inspired by our announcement of impending services to offer their own more reasonable fares and we applaud them for that in advance and look forward to keeping them honest when we begin our flights to Port Macquarie in February next year. The beauty of competition is that it’s a win-win for the community and for consumers and we can’t wait to add Port Macquarie to our expanding national route network.”
Virgin Blue has invested more than AUD $850-million in the fleet of new EMBRAER aircraft which will have dual benefits in terms of opening up new route opportunities, as well as providing flexibility and additional frequency on existing Virgin Blue routes. Virgin Blue is the only large commercial airline in the Australia to operate the E-Jets, which will take on a number of routes that are currently serviced only by turbo prop aircraft.
^ Subject to regulatory approval
* All fares are for flights booked on the internet or $15 more when booked by phone. Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. For Virgin Blue bookings log on to www.virginblue.com.au or phone our award winning Guest Contact Centre on 13 6789 or contact a travel agent.