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Virgin Blue To Launch Jet Service To Ballina - Byron Bay Special $69* Launch Fare For Flights To Popular Paradise


Airline Calls On Canberra To Protect Regional Jet Services

Canberra - Virgin Blue has announced it will land its modern red jets at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport from August 5 bringing low fares, great service and true competition to the popular Far North Coast region.

Speaking before a ‘Friends of Tourism’ Members and Senators lunch in Parliament House today, Virgin Blue Head of Strategy and Communications, David Huttner said “We’ve been focussing on the Ballina-Byron Bay region as a potential jet destination for some time as it is much more convenient, not just for Ballina and Byron Bay but also for other communities in the region such as Casino and Lismore.”

A special launch fare offer of $69* one-way on the net from Sydney is now up for grabs for flights booked between today and February 22 for travel between 5 August and 15 September 2004.

The airline is enthusiastic about introducing the only jet service to passengers using the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and will be offering low fare convenient connections to and from southern capitals and New Zealand, opening the door for domestic and international tourism.

David Huttner said, “We have always maintained that regional destinations deserve a jet service and that people prefer to fly on a larger aircraft and that has proven true in all the regional centres we fly to. We are confident the people of northern NSW will enjoy the benefits of a more efficient and comfortable flight as much as their counterparts in regional destinations around the country.”

David Huttner also called on the government to take steps to ensure that the low fare jet services to regional centres do not become untenable due to unregulated airport charges at the hubs and the increasing burden of security costs that are meant to protect all Australians and not just air passengers.

He noted that many Virgin Blue Guests flying into the Gold Coast were really fanning out across northern NSW.

“We revolutionised air transport for communities from Launceston to Proserpine and we have found that the people of these regional centres have supported the airline that backed them with comfortable and affordable jet flights.”

Presently, Qantas fares between Ballina and Sydney start from $152 one-way on the net and require passengers to fly on a small turbo prop aircraft. Virgin Blue’s new faster jets will offer more comfort but also shave the flying time by almost half an hour.

Virgin Blue’s Mid-Week Mini-Fares will start from $79* one-way on the net, with a Fully Flexible Virgin Blue fare of $229* one-way, 35% cheaper than the Qantas fare.

The Ballina Byron Gateway Airport offers passengers easy access to surrounding communities with Byron Bay and Lismore an easy drive of less than 30 minutes.

Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson, back at work in London after his recent surfing holiday at Byron Bay said, “Virgin Blue beginning flights to this region is absolutely brilliant news. I had such a fantastic break in Byron. I definitely plan on returning and now many others will be able to do the same.”

“When I was there, so many people asked me why they should be forced to drive north to the state border to fly south to Sydney at affordable prices. But our team didn’t even tell me about this planned announcement until after I left as they weren’t sure I would be able to keep such great news a secret.”
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Ballina will be Virgin Blue’s 21st Australian destination and the service will operate daily giving Guests a reliable and convenient schedule.

The low fare carrier will operate a daily service with the flight departing Sydney at 11.35am, landing at Ballina Byron Bay Gateway Airport at 12.45pm before turning around and departing Ballina at 1.15pm, touching down at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport at 2.30pm.

The airline will add over 140 seats each way each day on this route offering a larger, quieter and more comfortable aircraft that flies higher and faster than the turbo prop aircraft offered to regional travellers until now.

David Huttner continued, “It’s not about pinching passengers from other airlines, it’s about making flying within reach of those people who would normally drive, catch a train or bus or just stay at home.”

“We are very keen to give the competition a serious run for its money. People know which airline has been about low fares since day one and we are certain these flights will prove a boost to travellers, including International tourists connecting from our recently launched flights from Christchurch in New Zealand”, he finished.

For tens of thousands of Far North Coast locals, it means they will no longer have to travel to Coolangatta to enjoy Virgin Blue’s low fares, instead flying direct to Sydney and connecting onwards be it for business, shopping or to catch up with family or friends.

Virgin Blue is hopeful that business travellers and commuters will also find its sleek, modern Boeing 737–700 jets with 144 leather seats a comfortable and efficient alternative to the existing turbo prop aircraft currently operating on the Ballina-Sydney route.

Convenient connections will be available from Ballina Byron Bay Gateway Airport to other Virgin Blue destinations including Adelaide, Cairns, Melbourne as well as one of the newest destinations, Christchurch in New Zealand.

Furthermore, the arrival of Virgin Blue will also mean additional jobs at the airport as well as a boost to tourism with the anticipated rise in the number of visitors. Past trends have shown a significant increase in tourist numbers following the introduction of Virgin Blue flights in new ports emphasising the low fare carrier’s strategy of stimulating the market and enticing people to travel by offering affordable fares.

* All fares are for flights booked on the Internet. $10 more by phone. The $69 launch fare offer is on sale from today until 22 February 2004 and flights are for travel from August 5 to September 15 2004. Mid-Week Mini-Fares are for travel on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak days.