Virgin Australia has launched commercial
services with the first of its new ATR 72-500 turboprop airliners.
The inaugural flight of Virgin Australia’s first
turboprop - and Australia’s first ATR 72 – was also the airline’s
first flight from Brisbane to the regional industrial city of
Perth-based Skywest will operate the new
ATR services on behalf of Virgin Australia, with a fleet of eight
68-seat ATR 72 aircraft.
The airline has orders for
four of the series 500 model – three of which have now been
delivered - and four of the next-generation series 600 model.
Skywest also has options to acquire another five ATR
72-600s, all of which it will operate for Virgin.
In addition to Gladstone, Virgin will operate
the ATRs on a range of other regional or short haul primary
routes, including Brisbane-Port Macquarie and Sydney-Port
Macquarie, commencing this Wednesday, 19 October 2011.
This will be followed by
routes including Sydney-Canberra and another new market, Brisbane-Emerald.
Filippo Bagnato, Chief Executive Officer
of ATR, said, “Virgin Australia needed an aircraft type which
would provide an economic entry into new regional routes, and
cost-effective expansion of a range of existing markets. The ATR
72 is that aircraft, offering both the lowest cost and the
greenest option in the regional segment, while delivering a
spacious, quiet cabin environment for passengers. We are delighted
that Virgin Australia and Skywest have selected our aircraft for
the next step in Virgin’s growth strategy.”
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