Virgin Blue today announced it will begin services between Newcastle (Williamtown) and Melbourne from November 1, 2003.
Virgin Blue`s new faster jets are expected to shave roughly half an hour off the current flying time between the two destinations and is offering a special launch fare offer of A$69* one-way on the net for flights booked between September 16 and September 28 for travel between November 1 and November 30.
Virgin Blue`s Mid-Week Mini-Fares will start from A$79 one-way on the net, with a Fully Flexible Virgin Blue fare of A$249 one-way.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “Newcastle will be Virgin Blue`s twentieth destination and we are excited to be in a position to cater to what is hoped to be significant demand for Virgin Blue flights in the Hunter region.
“Now, not only can you fly between Melbourne and Newcastle for less than the lowest available $81 one way bus fare, which takes approximately 15 hours via Sydney, you`ll get there direct in one and a half hours with Virgin Blue.”
Over recent months, the airline has been closely monitoring its booking system, which details the postcodes of Guests.
Godfrey added, “We identified a large number of Hunter-based travellers who found that the only way they could get low fares was to drive to Sydney in order to take advantage of airline competition. This, along with strong lobbying from the Newcastle business community and the airport, were among the key reasons behind Virgin Blue`s decision to launch direct flights to and from Newcastle.”
The low fare carrier will cater to both leisure and business travellers, with the daily flight departing Melbourne at 10.55am, landing at Williamtown Airport at 12.20pm before turning around and departing Williamtown at 12.50pm, touching down in Melbourne at 2.30pm.
Brett Godfrey continued, “We are keen to get in to the Hunter and give the competition a serious run for its money. Our low fares will prove a boost to tourism by paving the way for Victorian based people to visit Newcastle to sample the delights of the region, from the award winning wineries and stunning beaches to the old world charm of Metford and beautiful marine life in Port Stephens.”
Novocastrians will also now be able to afford a weekend getaway to the Victorian capital for a shopping spree, theatre show or to catch up with family or friends. They will also get convenient connections to and from Adelaide and Hobart.
Virgin Blue is hopeful that business travellers will find its sleek, modern Boeing 737-700 jets with 144 seat capacity a comfortable and efficient alternative to the existing turbo prop aircraft currently operating on the Newcastle-Melbourne route.
“As with any new city, we will be watching to gauge the response and demand for our flights and if there is ongoing support, we will then look to increasing the number of daily flights and possibly introduce new routes out of Newcastle in the future”, Brett Godfrey finished.
Virgin Blue Guests heading to or from Newcastle that are already booked on services between Melbourne and Sydney will be able to transfer to the more convenient direct service at no extra charge between 16 and 28 September.