Virgin Blueå‘s big red jet will touch down at Maroochydore Airport at 1.00pm today marking the arrival of the low fare carrierå‘s first commercial flight to the Sunshine Coast.
Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson, announced plans to begin direct flights between the Sunshine Coast and Sydney just over six weeks ago and since then the airline has been inundated with bookings to the popular leisure destination.
Demand and forward bookings have been so strong that Virgin Blue has already added an additional flight on Sundays.
Spokesperson Amanda Bolger said, “It is the first time in Virgin Blue history that we have actually added capacity before the service was even launched. The initial response to our new Sunshine Coast service exceeded our wildest expectations so we responded sooner rather than later by going to eight flights a week.”
Virgin Blue’s low fares and friendly customer service focus is expected to provide a huge boost to the local tourism industry, with affordable air fares making the Sunshine Coast a more accessible destination for weekend getaways and short breaks.
Fares start from $99* one-way on the net, with $279* one-way on the net Fully Flexible fares, more than 1/3 cheaper than the competition’s Fully Flexible fare of $455 one-way.
Amanda Bolger noted, “We find it somewhat amusing that Qantas comes out the day before our launch flight and suddenly lowers its lead-in fare from $142 to $100 one-way. The question needs to be asked, why now? More importantly, do people want to support the airline that is about competition or the one that only reacts to competition?”
The new Virgin Blue service will provide Sunshine Coast business travellers with the opportunity to stretch their travel budget. Virgin Blue will also offer connecting flights from Maroochydore to Melbourne and Adelaide.
Amanda Bolger added, “It’s all about value for money and Virgin Blue is stimulating the market, creating more demand and opening up air travel to people who have previously been forced to pay through the nose for a flight. Until now, travellers have had to drive to Brisbane to get competitive air fares, now we’ve brought competition directly to the Sunshine Coast.”
Virgin Blue will operate the Maroochydore-Sydney route using its brand new state-of-the-art Next Generation 737 aircraft, which will be the highest capacity jet aircraft to ever service the Sunshine Coast.
“The people of Maroochydore want bigger jet services. The aircraft fly higher and faster, have comfortable leather seats and are more fuel efficient meaning a smoother ride for Guests and cost savings that are passed straight back through low fares.”
The airline will closely monitor the ongoing demand for flights with the possibility of introducing additional frequencies and possibly new destinations from Maroochydore in the future.
Virgin Blue’s Global Sales Manager, Jon Marshall said, “The local tourism industry got behind Virgin Blue from day one and now with direct flights to Maroochydore, we are keen to build on that success to get more people holidaying on the Sunshine Coast. Past experience has also proven that it’s not just about boosting tourism, improved and affordable access for business people will also bring commercial benefits to the region.”
Amanda Bolger added, “While it’s early days, we have been buoyed by strong initial support and are confident this will be the first of many flights in and out of the Sunshine Coast. We’ve always said we will support regions that support us and if early indications are anything to go by, Virgin Blue and the Sunshine Coast will have a long term win-win relationship that will greatly benefit everyone involved.”
* All fares include the passenger ticket levy, airport charges and the global security charge and are for flights booked on the Internet. $10 more by phone.