Australiaå‘s only low fare airline will venture into regional New South Wales for the first time, touching down in true Virgin Blue style at Coffs Harbour airport at 12.40pm today.
It heralds the arrival of real competition to the North Coast region, providing both business and leisure travellers with an affordable jet alternative.
Daily flights between Sydney and Coffs Harbour begin today with fares starting from $89 one-way on the net with a Fully Flexible fare of $199 one-way on the net, 35% cheaper than Qantas’s Fully Flexible fare of around $310 one-way.
Virgin Blue Head of Commercial David Huttner said, “We are excited to be introducing more people to Virgin Blue’s great fares, great service and brand new Next Generation 737 jet aircraft. It’s the first, but definitely not the last, new destination we are looking at across New South Wales and the Coffs service will set the benchmark for further development.”
He continued, “We think regional centres have been short-changed for far too long in terms of air travel options and introducing a jet aircraft highlights the fact that high quality services should not be limited to capital cities.”
Coffs Harbour was chosen as Virgin Blue’s regional New South Wales launch route because of the existing airport infrastructure, demand for a low cost, high quality jet operation and its position as a leading tourist destination.
While it’s early days, forward bookings for the new Coffs Harbour-Sydney flights are trending strongly, signalling a boost for local tourism.
“Traditionally the introduction of Virgin Blue flights to a particular destination has stimulated the tourism market as well as allowed business travellers to keep their travel budget in the black. Our experience in centres such as Launceston, Mackay and Townsville where we’ve offered bigger aircraft, more flights and great fares, proves our belief that people want to fly, they just haven’t been able to afford to until now”, added David Huttner.
The airline will add almost 150 seats each way each day on this route offering a larger, quieter and more comfortable aircraft that flies higher and faster than the turbo prop aircraft offered to regional travellers until now.
“It’s not about pinching passengers from other airlines, it’s about making flying within reach of those people who would normally drive, catch a train or bus or just not go anywhere at all. Now travellers can afford to fly away for a fishing or golfing break, or even a romantic getaway on the scenic North Coast.”
While Virgin Blue doesn’t have the big dollars to sponsor the Wallabies, the airline is positioning itself to be the unofficial airline of Wallaby supporters, finally giving fans affordable fares to come to the team’s training base to support Australia’s rugby heroes in their quest for continued winning form.
A Virgin Blue recruitment team will also be on board today’s flight, arriving for a three-day cabin crew recruitment drive. They will be conducting an information session as well as interviews to identify potential Virgin Blue Cabin Crew. Coffs Harbour locals will have the opportunity to apply for a range of exciting jobs with Virgin Blue, based in Brisbane and throughout Australia