IN BRIEF | Virgin Australia will return to Mt Isa in August, with daily flights from Brisbane on Monday through Friday.
The move comes 11 years after the airline, then known as Virgin Blue, shuttered its flights to the boom town, leaving Qantas as the city's sole carrier for Queensland's copper mining capital.
Steve de Kruijff, from Xstrata Mount Isa Mines – which is commercially backing the Virgin service, having inked a 'heads of' agreement to support the route – says that in the year from March 2011 to March 2012, passenger numbers flying through Mount Isa Airport increased by 10% to almost 22,000 people.
"More competition in the skies is a benefit to the communities in the north-west region," de Kruijff said. "Xstrata has a high demand for flight services for contractors working on our many development projects expanding our operations as well as for business travel to and from our Brisbane head offices."
Virgin Australia General Manager Sales Justin Montgomery said the new services would benefit Mount Isa and regional communities greatly by providing choice on the route.
"Virgin Australia is proud to service the community of Mount Isa. These new services will bring a range of benefits including more competitive pricing, enhanced flight connections and a higher quality overall travel experience.
However, Xstrata is keen to share the love – and its corporate travel budget – across both Qantas and Virgin "to help ensure Mount Isa has two reliable and competitive airlines", according to de Kruijff.