Virgin Australia announces new Brisbane route

Virgin Australia will begin operating flights between Brisbane and Alice Springs from June, 2018. Photo: Glenn Hunt. Courtesy: Brisbane Times

Air traffic at Brisbane Airport will increase again in June as Virgin Australia will start services between Brisbane and Alice Springs. 

Speaking from the Routes Asia 2018 conference in Brisbane, Virgin Australia Airlines group executive Rob Sharp announced the airline would operate twice-weekly return services from June 19. 

“We are committed to connecting guests based in regional areas with Australia and the rest of the world,” he said.

“These services will not only strengthen our domestic network offering and increase competition on this route but they will also provide better connectivity to international destinations such as New Zealand,” Mr Sharp said.

The service would be operated on Tuesdays and Thursdays under an agreement with Alliance Airlines. 

Northern Territory Airports chief-executive Ian Kew said the new services would boost tourism growth in Alice Springs.

“These new services will not only provide guests with more choice, they will also play a key role in attracting more tourists to Alice Springs, which in turn will drive economic growth in our region,” he said. 

Mr Sharp stepped into the role of group executive in late 2017 and said since his appointment he made sure the business was aligned and deployed targeted strategies.

“Airlines typically work well when your basics are working well,” he said.

“There has been a focus on on-time performance, cancellations, getting pilot numbers to a level that’s sustainable.

“Customers have been a big one as well, you can never take your eye off the customer and for us, we’ve been investing heavily in that space.”

Virgin Australia was founded originally as Virgin Blue in 2000 as a low-cost carrier, but Mr Sharp said the carrier was now a full-service carrier.

“We’re well placed in that market and very competitive,” he said.

“It was quite unique at the time moving from a low-cost to a full service, in fact, Virgin Blue was actually the low-cost carrier that came into Australia and changed the fares and brought a lot of competition, brought a business model that hadn’t been here before and shook up the market.

“That DNA is still very much in there, we view Virgin as a challenger brand and we certainly still see ourselves as doing things differently and taking a fresh look at things.

Mr Sharp said the arrival of other carriers like Jet Star left an opportunity to compete at the premium end of the market.

When asked by moderator Nigel Mayes if Virgin could take the crown off Qantas as number one carrier Mr Sharp said Virgin was running its own race.

“We’re a challenger brand, we want to mix things up … who knows where it will end, but certainly we’re kicking goals at the moment,” he said.

Pop Up Radio is live streaming the Routes Asia 2018 conference.