After various comments and reports in the media over the weekend, Virgin Blue believes it is important to clarify its views on access to former Ansett airport facilities across Australia:
- Virgin Blue is in advanced negotiations with a number of airports and hopes to have access to former Ansett facilities at reasonable rates that would allow it to continue offering low fares to the travelling public.
- In negotiations with all airports including Sydney, the airline has never asked to restrict access and will in fact be making all unutilised areas available to any carrier that may need them.
- The airline has only asked to prominently brand those areas that it is using in line with practice with many common-user terminals throughout the world. This would include such things as prominent signage outside the building to allow the airline to compete with Qantas as well as prominently branded check-in and gate areas.
- In Sydney, Virgin Blue only expects to need six of the nine gates on Pier A, leaving three available for other carriers. It is not known how much of Pier B Qantas intends to use. Even if the entire Ansett facility is fully utilised in the future, there is still the Domestic Express Terminal, which is now successfully serving a fleet of 18 aircraft
- Any attempts by the government to delay Virgin Blue’s negotiations with SACL will only further limit the airlines growth. This comes at a time when the carrier faces increases in various taxes, levies and surcharges, no relief on the Ansett levy, recently deregulated airports which will raise their fees by a minimum of 80%, and no effective guidelines or actions against anti-competitive practices. All of these increased costs will be passed on to the consumer, stifling the growth of the existing airlines, including regional carriers, as well as the entire tourism sector.
- Virgin Blue’s business plan was built on the assumption of there being three domestic trunk route operators. The airline was profitable when there were three, and even four, carriers. The airline has and will continue to welcome competition in this industry and does not see this as a hindrance to their growth and success.