Virgin Blue has confirmed plans to withdraw flights to and from Mt Isa due to the uneconomic seat capacity in the market since the withdrawal of Ansett’s solitary daily service.
While Virgin Blue was the first to commit to the isolated regional Queensland community after the Ansett collapse, Qantas announced its intention to service the route shortly after and it is clear the market cannot support an increase from one to three jets per day.
Chief Executive Brett Godfrey said, “We are quite proud of the team who worked incredible hours to get this service going on short notice. We also want to thank the thousands of Guests who did back us on this route which was clearly a gamble and a break from our traditional strategy of servicing communities with a minimum 50,000 population due to the size of our jets.”
The airline has decided to maintain its complete schedule up until the end of December and will operate a limited schedule (Friday and Monday flights) until January 14 to ensure all passengers will be able to return from their Christmas holidays.
Other customers booked beyond these flight dates will be contacted by Virgin Blue customer care and will be given a full credit or refund or where possible, alternative travel arrangements organised.
Brett Godfrey continued, “While other airlines may feel that it is a fair business strategy to run a route at a loss, it has always been Virgin Blue`s position that to offer low fares, every route flown must break even. While the traffic had clearly shifted in our favour, there is still too much going the other way to allow us to recover our costs.”
The midday aircraft will be redirected towards improving the schedule on the Brisbane-Cairns service.
“Since Virgin Blue announced its intentions to enter the Mt Isa market, there was been a nearly three fold increase in the number of seats available. While we are grateful for the support of those who flew with us, as a low fare carrier, we can’t justify a loss-making route and concede there is not enough traffic to support both us and Qantas”.