Topics:  bundaberg airport, mal forman, virgin airlines

Virgin to fly to and from Bundy, Qantas welcomes competitor

The Bundaberg Airport. Photo: Submitted
The Bundaberg Airport. Photo: Submitted

BUNDABERG travellers are soaring on cloud nine after Virgin Australia announced it will offer a daily Bundaberg to Brisbane return service, starting May 4.

The arrival of a second carrier comes after years of negotiations with a variety of airlines - with Virgin being the main contender - as well as a $27 million airport upgrade in 2008.

Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman said the announcement was "excellent" news.

Virgin has confirmed its ATR-72 Turboprop aircraft will operate a daily flight to Bundaberg, departing Brisbane at 12.40pm and arriving into the rum city at 1.40pm.

The return flight will depart Bundaberg Airport at 2.10pm and arrive in Brisbane at 3.10pm.

"Bundaberg has been a monopoly market for over 10 years and the local community and tourism operators have told us that they would welcome competition in the region," Virgin Alliances, Network and Yield group executive Merren McArthur said.

"The midday flight is convenient for holiday makers and business travellers, as there are 11 domestic and international connections within three hours of the flight landing in Brisbane."

Fares go on sale on the Virgin website from Saturday.

Cr Forman said negotiations for a second airline had started about eight years ago with the former Bundaberg City Council, and continued after amalgamation under the direction of then-mayor Lorraine Pyefinch.

"We've been able to continue those negotiations since I became mayor," Cr Forman said.

Cr Forman said the additional flight would be a boost for the local economy.

"It will increase competition and that will hopefully mean cheaper airfares," he said.

Former Bundaberg region Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said she was pleased to hear the news today.

"We would have never got that without the investment we made in the airport upgrade," she said.

"You have to have the infrastructure before they will consider a new route."

Mrs Pyefinch said council had come close to securing the airline a couple of times during her years as mayor.

"We always knew (Virgin) were buying a number of those ATR-72 planes specifically designed for regional routes, including Bundaberg," she said.

"It was always a case of when, not if.

"We had the infrastructure right, we put through all the information and it was just to be a commercial decision of the airline to commit to the route."

Qantas has been flying to Bundaberg for more than 30 years and today welcomed news of a competitor.

"We welcome competition because in the end it's the consumer who benefits," a spokesperson said.

"We're committed to supporting local communities and business, with 28 return services per week between Brisbane and Bundaberg for a total of 3200 seats."

Earlier:

VIRGIN Australia has announced it will start flights between Brisbane and Bundaberg on May 4.

Virgin Australia's ATR-72 Turboprop aircraft1 will operate a daily return flight which has been timed to allow for convenient transfers to connecting flights out of Brisbane.

Virgin group executive of alliances, network and yield Merren McArthur said Bundaberg had been a monopoly market for more than a decade and that people in the region wanted competition.

"The midday flight is convenient for holiday makers and business travellers alike, as there are 11 domestic and international connections within three hours of the flight landing in Brisbane," she said.

"We continue to expand our operations in regional Queensland utilising our highly fuel efficient and comfortable ATR-72 turboprop aircraft which we launched in October 2011.

"Virgin Australia has a reputation for offering competitive airfares and exceptional service and we look forward to serving the people of Bundaberg."

Travellers will also be able to earn points with Virgin Australia's award-winning loyalty program, Velocity Frequent Flyer2.

Ms McArthur also announced that Virgin Australia will hold a community day in Bundaberg in the next few months, giving locals the chance to board the ATR-72 turboprop aircraft and meet Virgin Australia pilots and crew.

More detail will be provided soon.

Flights will depart Brisbane at 12.40pm arriving into Bundaberg at 1.40pm and depart Bundaberg at 2.10pm, arriving in Brisbane at 3.10pm.

Fares will go on sale from from their website this weekend and to celebrate, Virgin Australia will offer special promotional fares on sale until March 12 from as little as $59 one way.

Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman said it was wonderful news for the region.

Reader poll

What are you most looking forward to with a new airline?

This poll ended on 27 February 2013.

Cheaper flights

74%

More available flights

10%

Having a choice of carriers

15%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


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