Virgin Australia upgrades Brisbane flights to Queensland, Newcastle

By John Walton, October 10 2012
Virgin Australia upgrades Brisbane flights to Queensland, Newcastle

Business travellers flying Virgin Australia between Brisbane and Newcastle, Cairns, Rockhampton and Proserpine will see larger planes -- some with business class -- from February 2013.

A mix of Boeing 737 and Embraer E190 planes will replace temporary all-economy Alliance Airlines Fokker 100 jets as Virgin does battle with Qantas for Brisbane business.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline is winding up its contract with Alliance now that Virgin's own fleet has grown.

"Virgin Australia entered into a contract with Alliance Airlines to lease its F100 aircraft as part of a short-term strategy to support demand from major corporate, resources and leisure sectors," Virgin's spokesperson explained. "This contract is now complete."

"Virgin Australia will be able to operate these services with its own Embraer E190 and Boeing 737 aircraft," the spokesperson told us, naming "mid-February 2013" as the change date.

  • Brisbane-Cairns flights will see a welcome change, with business class on board Boeing 737-800 planes.
  • Brisbane-Newcastle flights, meanwhile, will score Embraer E190 planes that also get business class.
  • Brisbane-Rockhampton flights get the E190s -- and their extra inch of economy seat width -- but no business class, with Flexi and Saver fares in the economy cabin.
  • Brisbane-Proserpine flights are upgraded to Boeing 737-700 planes offering more seats, but without business class.

However, Virgin has swatted down rumours about a fourth daily Brisbane-Newcastle return flight that was showing up on Virgin Australia's booking system from February.

Virgin's spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that this was a data error, telling us, "Virgin Australia continually reviews its network, however there are no planned changes to Brisbane services during February next year."

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John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 784

All they need to do now is sort out Newcastle-Melbourne, one early AM return and one late PM return flight would be great. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 186

This might explain why my booked ADL-CBR direct flight on a E190 has now become ADL-MEL-CBR on two B738's

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 180

It would be good to know why CBR-SYD is being short changed with ATR's, they're only 3 E190 services, and still the mid morning lacks a flight (9:35, the next one isn't until 1:05PM) whereas QF runs a service every 30-50 minutes.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

My guess: ATRs are the most efficient aircraft for the route. Canberra-Sydney is less than half the distance of any of the routes we're talking about above.

On a route that short, turboprops like the ATR lose a few minutes in terms of speed (though they lose more in terms of comfort) but are significantly more fuel-efficient.

And don't forget: Canberra routes are incredibly government-heavy, and Virgin is the distinct underdog there in terms of contracts.

Both Virgin and Qantas have smart route economics people on board: if the market there were better than the market elsewhere, they'd be on it like a business traveller on a free upgrade.

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