Premier promises cheap flights to ramp up tourism after mystery Virgin deal

Virgin Australia is receiving unspecified support from the State Government to add an extra 146,000 seats on flights to the Gold and Sunshine coasts as well as Cairns that will boost spending by an anticipated $53 million.

Oct 13, 2021, updated Oct 13, 2021
Virgin's joint tender deal with Alliance has been rejected by the ACCC. (Pic supplied)

Virgin's joint tender deal with Alliance has been rejected by the ACCC. (Pic supplied)

The State Government said Virgin Australia would launch new permanent and seasonal flights from December, the peak season for both south-east regions.

The flights would start from $79 _ one way _ and carry 25,000 travellers a month.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said more flights meant more dollars for struggling tourism businesses which have lost billions since the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent border closures.

“We’ve partnered with Virgin to land new seasonal air services on the Gold Coast from Launceston and Hobart, three and four-times-a-week respectively,” she said.

“There’s also a new permanent service locked in for flights between Cairns and the Gold Coast.

“And we’ve also partnered with Virgin to re-start their year-round Adelaide to Sunshine Coast service.”

While the Government did not release details of what its role in the partnership, Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe told Parliament it related to the $10 million fund established in the Budget to support aviation routes.

Virgin Australia’s chief transformation officer Alistair Hartley said the new services would be a shot in the arm for south east Queensland’s coastal communities.  

“These services have sale fares available from $79 one way and will carry more than 25,000 passengers a month, including 4224 between the Gold Coast and Launceston on a route that hasn’t been commercially operated in 20 years.”

Queensland Airports Limited chief executive Chris Mills said the new Gold Coast services would start during what was usually the peak tourism season and as travel nationally started to ramp up.

“When the Gold Coast-Launceston flights start in early December, it will be the first time a scheduled service has ever operated on this route – creating another new market for the Gold Coast,” he said.

“Extra capacity on the already popular Gold Coast-Hobart and Gold Coast-Cairns routes is also extremely welcome.

“These services will deliver more options for visitors wanting to come to the Gold Coast and for locals looking to holiday in north Queensland.”

Sunshine Coast Airport chief executive Andrew Brodie said Virgin’s decision to fly the route year-round was a strong vote confidence in our region.

“These Virgin services provide more choice and frequency for passengers, and we believe by building more connections like these our region will emerge strongly from the effects of COVID-19,” Brodie said.

“The introduction of services will cater to the significant pent up travel demand from travellers keen to explore the appeal of our beaches, hinterland and fresh produce in both peak and shoulder holiday seasons.”

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said more flights were an incentive for prospective tourists to book a holiday in Queensland.

“Virgin’s flights will add holiday cheer for tourism operators with hotels, restaurants and visitor experiences by helping to support more than 419 local jobs after tough pandemic year,” he said.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the three new services were a significant expansion to Virgin Australia’s Gold Coast route network.

“Our 4600 tourism businesses are extremely keen to roll out the welcome mat to travellers who love to holiday and reconnect in our slice of paradise each year,” she said.

“We know holidaymakers are increasingly seeking to reconnect and spend quality time together and the Gold Coast is well placed to roll out the red carpet.



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