One of Virgin Blue’s modern red jets will touch down at Alice Springs for the first time at 12.20pm today, heralding the arrival of low fares and true competition to the Red Centre.
Flight DJ583 will land with a full load of paying Guests and a number of VIP’s including NT Tourism Minister Dr Chris Burns and NTTC Managing Director Maree Tetlow. In traditional Virgin Blue launch flight tradition, celebrations in the air will include champagne, a charity auction, limited edition launch flight t-shirt giveaways and other activities.
A special in-flight Guest appearance by the Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland is also expected.
From today, Virgin Blue will offer a daily direct service between Sydney and Alice Springs, bringing more tourism to the Territory and offering the people of Alice affordable travel to eastern capitals.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive Brett Godfrey said, “There has been a strong focus recently on domestic tourism with more people holidaying at home but, until today, the Red Centre was missing out due to the monopoly pricing on flights to and from Alice. We are happy to be bringing our great fares to Central Australia so that travellers can afford to explore the delights of the region, whether it be visiting Uluru or exploring Kings Canyon.”
The opening of the rail line between Alice and Darwin later this year, combined with Virgin Blue’s soon-to-be launched direct Sydney-Darwin (from June 14) and Sydney-Alice flights, will encourage travellers to see more of the Territory.
For the people on the East Coast, it means easy access to Alice Springs for a week’s outback adventure or even a weekend of hot air ballooning and Quad Bike riding.
The route is also critical for the people of Alice as it means friends and family can visit them more often or locals can afford to take off interstate more than once a year.
The majority of businesses in Alice Springs are small to medium enterprises with tight travel budgets and the new Virgin Blue flights to Sydney will allow them to fly to Sydney and beyond for a business meeting without busting the budget. Convenient connections will be available from Alice to Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne.
Brett Godfrey continued, “The people of Alice know what it’s like to live with what has effectively been a monopoly route for some time, and as a result we are confident they will support a low fare alternative. We will be adding up to 2016 seats to the market each week which is great for tourism, great for the local economy and great for locals fed up with having to pay excessive airfares, especially when they have to travel at the last minute.”
Virgin Blue’s fares will start from $170* one-way on the net (mid-week mini fare) with the Fully Flexible fare of $460* one-way on the net, 33% lower than the Qantas equivalent fare of $684.
“We applaud the enthusiasm and the motivation of the State Government, the Northern Territory Tourism Commission and the Northern Territory Airports for working closely with Virgin Blue to ensure the Red Centre enjoys the same low fares as the rest of the country.”
The airline has named one of its aircraft after Alice Springs, with “Alluring Alice” to be launched into service next week, joining sister aircraft “Darwin Diva” already flying around Australian skies.
Demand for the Sydney-Alice Springs direct flights will be closely monitored to determine the need for additional flights subject to support.
* 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. $170* one-way is the mid-week mini fare available for travel only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.