Virgin Australia Takes-Off from Alice Springs

The new route brings choice and competition to the town after Alice Springs was left without a second carrier when the low-cost airline, Tigerair pulled out in July last year. It also brings additional international connection options through Darwin and the operations of Virgin Australia’s partner carrier SilkAir via Singapore’s Changi International Airport.

Virgin Australia has resumed services from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory for the first time in almost ten years with the inauguration of three times weekly links to Adelaide and Darwin. The new flights bring competition into these two markets with Virgin having previously served the Adelaide – Alice Springs route under the Virgin Blue brand up until September 2005.

The new route brings choice and competition to the town after Alice Springs was left without a second carrier when the low-cost airline, Tigerair pulled out in July last year. It also brings additional international connection options through Darwin and the operations of Virgin Australia’s partner carrier SilkAir via Singapore’s Changi International Airport. Until this week, Qantas was the only airline operating domestic services to and from Alice Springs.

“By bringing competition and choice we will be playing a key role in supporting local businesses and tourism operators as they promote all that Darwin, Adelaide and Alice Springs have to offer. The introduction of these direct flights will also enable local residents to connect more seamlessly onto our expansive domestic and international network,” said Judith Crompton, chief commercial officer, Virgin Australia.

The opening of the new route, operated by a 176-seat Boeing 737-800, recognises the importance of the Northern Territory as a developing business and tourism destination in Australia

“Adding services on this important route creates options for Territory travellers, as well as inbound tourism and business segments,” said Ian Kew, chief executive officer, NT Airports. “With a total of 41 weekly return services to the Northern Territory, Virgin Australia and its partner airlines are now well positioned to enhance international visitor opportunities to the Northern Territory. A large range of open-jaw flying opportunities enables overseas visitors to combine flights to Darwin, Alice Springs and Uluru from all of Australia’s major gateways, including Darwin with SilkAir.

Improving air access across the Northern Territory is one of the key aims of the operators route development strategy, which was recognised at the recent Routes Asia forum, where the company collected another award for its work developing connectivity around the state and in particular at Darwin International Airport. The airline judges highlighted NT Airport's recent work securing this Virgin Australia link as a key achievement.

NT Airports’ director commercial and aviation development, Jim Parashos, was at the ceremony in Kunming, China to accept the award and told Routesonline the continuing success at this level reflected how NT Airports' route development strategy is improving air access across the Northern Territory.

“We have a strong track record in building air services and creating options not only for Territory travellers, but for important inbound tourist and business segments. Over the last two years we have delivered international carriers SilkAir, Malaysia Airlines, Indonesia AirAsia and Philippine Airlines into the Darwin market,” he said.

According to Parashos the immediate focus is to work to with existing airline partners and the Northern Territory Government to sustain services and grow the frequency of flights. “In terms of future growth aspirations, we are now exploring options to better serve markets in New Zealand and North Asia, including China,” he added.