Sunday, April 5, 2009

Virgin Blue Airline launches four new flights

Townsville has landed a place in Virgin Blue's history books as the first and only destination that has ever had four new flights launched in one day.

Eight years after the first Virgin Blue flight touched down in Townsville, the award winning airline has embarked on a significant capacity increase with the launch of four new flights today. They include direct flights to four new services from Townsville to Cairns, Canberra, Gold Coast and Rockhampton.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey said, "This is indeed a first for the Virgin Blue Group of Airlines. Never before have we committed four new routes to the one city on the same day so it's a leap of faith in Townsville, the community and the tourism potential of the destination. We are hopeful we will be on the receiving end of more of the terrific support we have received from the first day we touched down in this key regional Queensland city."

Virgin Blue already operates six flights a day to Townsville from Brisbane and Sydney but this is its first foray in to intra-Queensland routes.

Three of the four new services offer direct flights to destinations not currently serviced as a non-stop flight by any airline, namely Canberra, Gold Coast and Rockhampton. The additional services represent a 66% increase in frequency for Townsville.

Brett Godfrey continued, "After consultation with tourism and industry stakeholders, we identified these markets as being of importance to the people of Townsville in terms of convenient direct services so are willing to back these requests, commit aircraft to them and give them a shot".

Townsville Mayor Cr Les Tyrell welcomed the new services, saying: "This is a tremendous boost for air travel for regional Queensland at a time when it's needed most. The success of Virgin Blue with other services in and out of Townsville shows that if you provide the opportunities for people to travel in the North, they'll snap them up."

"These flights will provide an additional link with three major regional centres and our national capital. The extra visitors to Townsville and the opportunities generated can only be good for our city and its economy."

Brett Godfrey added, "Most of the focus of the new services is around intra-regional Queensland routes and this is an ideal opportunity to stimulate tourism within our home state, help businesses fly smarter and more affordability and provide Townsville, Rockhampton and the Gold Coast with closer internal connections as well as a direct link to Canberra."

Virgin Blue will operate the executive style EMBRAER jet on these routes, flying in the face of the tradition by other airlines to service regional communities with turbo-prop aircraft.

"In the current economic climate, decisions where to direct our aircraft are not randomly pulled out of a hat. We do in-depth analysis before we enter new markets and we are hopeful the new services will take off, however we need the support of the local community to maintain them on an ongoing basis. If there is sufficient demand, the flights will stay but if not it’s a case of “use it or lose it”, finished Brett Godfrey.