Virgin Blue has announced a ten year tie-up with Skywest Airlines as the carriers seek to grow their market share in Australia.
Under the terms of the alliance, Skywest will operate up to 18 new Virgin Blue branded turbo prop aircraft to a number of existing and new destinations around the country.
Virgin Blue chief executive, John Borghetti, said: “By partnering with the pre-eminent regional airline in Australia, Virgin Blue is investing in building a substantial network in regional Australia and strengthening its domestic network.
“The combined strength of our networks, along with the additional capacity we will deliver with new aircraft, will provide travellers with more frequent flights, better schedules and competitive fares.”
The agreement will see Virgin Blue and Skywest codeshare on a number of domestic routes.
Virgin Blue chief executive, John Borghetti, described the deal as “win win”
The partnership will see Virgin Blue expand its reach throughout regional Australia and will access to untapped opportunities in regional Australian markets, in particular the booming fly-in fly-out resource sector market.
The first aircraft will arrive mid 2011 with four Virgin Blue branded aircraft in operation by the end of the year.
Skywest chairman, Jeff Chatfield, added: “In addition to providing Skywest with access to Virgin Blue’s extensive network, this major strategic initiative provides us with the opportunity to significantly grow our corporate travel offer for resource sector and charter clients across Australia and internationally.
“The leasing arrangement means that Skywest will not be exposed to the capital investment of owning the aircraft and will be a service provider and code-share partner.”
Details of the network and flight schedule will be announced in coming months.