Virgin Australia has announced pricing for its new Brisbane/Gladstone and Brisbane/Port Macquarie flights, commencing mid-October.
Currently the only airlines operating the Brisbane/Gladstone route are Qantas, which charges $376 for the one hour flight, and Strategic Airlines, which charges between $90 and $166.58.
There are currently no direct flights between Brisbane and Port Macquarie.
Virgin Australia says the new schedule will provide:
- Double daily week-day return Brisbane to Gladstone from $89 one way;
- Daily return Brisbane to Port Macquarie, from $99 one way;
It will also increase the number of Sydney/Canberra services, with current pricing unchanged.
- Double daily Sydney to Port Macquarie; and
- Up to six daily return services between Sydney to Canberra (up to 60 a week, Virgin says)
The news will be particularly welcome for businesspeople in Port Macquarie and Gladstone wanting to catch international flights out of Brisbane.
It also means that travellers from Port Macquarie will be able to fly directly to Queensland without having to first fly to Sydney.
The new French-made ATR 72-500 aircraft to be used on the routes will replace Virgin's relatively young fleet of Embraer E170 jets, which haven't worked out for the airline due to uneconomical fuel consumption for the routes they're flying.
The ATR 72-500 is a twin-propeller plane that can seat 68 people in what Virgin promises are "spacious and stylish" surrounds (but presumably can't provide quite the smooth ride that a jet can).
You can see a picture of what the plane looks like here.
Under the alliance, Skywest will operate and maintain the aircraft on behalf of Virgin Australia using Virgin Australia’s branding and inflight products and services.
The first two ATR aircraft are named after the Far North Queensland beaches - Mission Beach and Four-Mile Beach.