Virgin Australia will no longer serve Bundaberg from late September, with both its Brisbane-Bundaberg and Bundaberg-Gladstone routes being axed as part of the airline's restructure.
Operated by Alliance Airlines on behalf of Virgin Australia, the last Bundaberg flights will run on Sunday September 27 – after which, Brisbane-Bundaberg will become a QantasLink monopoly, while Bundaberg and Gladstone will no longer be linked by air.
“The decision to suspend services to Bundaberg was not taken lightly,” said Alliance Airlines CEO Lee Schofield.
"However, ongoing significantly reduced demand, exacerbated by the border closures which have essentially stopped all connecting traffic through Brisbane, have made this route unviable in the current environment.”
Executive Traveller staff recently travelled the Brisbane-Bundaberg-Gladstone-Brisbane triangle route, and observed just 25 passengers boarding the 80-seat aircraft from Brisbane, and a similar number boarding in Bundaberg – although the final Gladstone-Brisbane leg was noticeably busier.
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Of course, Bundaberg can also be reached from Brisbane by a four-hour drive, with Bundaberg and Gladstone even closer together, approximately 160km apart, making road trips a popular option for locals.
Bundaberg’s loss is Gladstone’s gain, with Alliance Airlines boosting Brisbane-Gladstone-Brisbane flights to 12 times a week from late September, all of which will run non-stop.
QantasLink, which had most recently been serving Bundaberg four times each week, will return to six flights per week after Alliance Airlines exits. Its Brisbane-Bundaberg-Brisbane flights will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The move follows Virgin Australia’s exit from a host of other regional routes, including flights to Albury, Ayers Rock (Uluru), Cloncurry, Hervey Bay, Mildura and Tamworth, joined by the withdrawal of Virgin Australia flights to Tonga, even after international travel restrictions ease.
Virgin Australia has also axed its Sydney-Port Macquarie flights, although Alliance Airlines will continue to operate Brisbane-Port Macquarie services on behalf of Virgin, set to resume once Queensland’s border to New South Wales reopens.