The Premier of Queensland, the Hon Peter Beattie, today launched Australia's newest carrier, Alliance Airlines, which immediately announced three new routes and foreshadowed the acquisition of additional aircraft.
Alliance Airlines is owned by Queensland Airline Holdings, which recently acquired assets of the former Flight West Airlines, a pioneering Australian carrier which ceased flying in June last year after 14 years of operation.
The creation of Alliance consolidates the jobs of 120 employees of the former Flight West, and initially creates another 20 full time positions including pilots and flight attendants . Further work will be created with third party suppliers.
"Our new name reflects our philosophy of working closely with the travel industry, all levels of Government, tourism offices, airport operators, international airlines, the communities we serve and of course our customers," said Alliance Managing Director Mr Scott McMillan.
"It also reflects our recognition of and gratitude for the significant assistance provided by the Queensland Government.
"Alliance will bring a refreshing new approach, while drawing on experience and expertise from Flight West, " said Mr McMillan. "We will offer more choice for consumers with competitive air fares, convenient schedules and a mix of full service Business Class or no-frills Economy Class on our jet flights."
At today's launch in Parliament House, Brisbane, Premier Beattie announced new daily services from Brisbane to Rockhampton, commencing on 26 August, and from Brisbane and Sydney to Norfolk Island, beginning on 7 September.
The airline already operates scheduled flights on two key Queensland routes, Townsville - Brisbane and Gladstone - Brisbane, which it has been operating under the Flight West brand.
The Premier welcomed the creation of Alliance Airlines, which has strong heritage in Queensland and will continue to be based in Brisbane.
"This is great news for Queensland tourism and Queensland business and for job creation," the Premier said. "I congratulate Alliance Airlines for recognising the strength of the market in Queensland and for demonstrating its confidence in the State's future growth by talking about expansion plans.
"I am particularly pleased to see this outcome because last year the State Government invested a considerable amount of money in maintaining Flight West's air operator's certificate so that it could continue trading and keep a good number of jobs going. I am delighted that Alliance Airlines is immediately boosting the number of jobs from 120 to 140 and is already talking about further expansion."
In addition to the direct employment of 140 staff, Alliance will create six jobs at Rockhampton Airport, a five-person call centre in Gladstone and additional work for a Townsville-based catering company.
Alliance Airlines currently has a fleet of four aircraft - two technically advanced Fokker 100 commercial jets, each seating 91 passengers in a two-class cabin, and two 30-seat Embraer Brasilia turboprops. The carrier will introduce additional Fokker 100s as its route network and services expand.
Alliance will also unveil in mid August the first of its aircraft in the new livery. Each of its aircraft is currently painted all-white in readiness for this change.
Mr McMillan said a key part of the Alliance strategy would be to reaffirm strong working relationships with travel agents and international airlines, to provide convenient and competitive air services which will benefit customers.
"We have now signed or will finalise shortly commercial agreements with a number of international airlines, which will enable us to carry their passengers on our services," said Mr McMillan.
"We have also finalised significant arrangements with a number of key travel agency chains in Australia, in order to make our services as accessible as possible to customers."
Mr McMillan said Alliance also would offer customers the option of booking very competitive fares via the internet, but would not engage in uneconomic online price wars.
"We will be competitive, but we will be sensible," said Mr McMillan. "We recognise that there is growing demand for fares to be available via the internet. But we also recognise the significant value added by travel agents, and we will work closely with distributors to ensure that customers have the widest possible access to our fares, or to holiday packages with access to our flights."
On its jet services, Alliance offers a unique combination of 16 seats in a full-service Business Class and 75 seats in a comfortable no-frills Economy Class cabin.
The two Fokker 100 jets currently in the fleet are deployed on six weekly return flights between Townsville and Brisbane, and on a long-term contract to provide services between Townsville and the major western Queensland resources sites of Pasminco and WMC Limited.
"In a matter of weeks, our two-class Townsville - Brisbane flights have become extremely popular, and it is our intention to expand this style of service to our other jet routes," said Mr McMillan.
A comprehensive new website is currently being developed to provide information about Alliance and its products, on-line booking capability and details of other services offered by the parent company Queensland Airline Holdings, including aircraft charter, contract flight operations and third party maintenance services.
Queensland Airline Holdings is owned by a consortium of experienced aviation identities including Mr Stephen Bond - well known in the Australian aviation community for his purchase of Lloyd Helicopters and his current interests in major helicopter operator Bond Air Services and UK regional airline Logan Air; Mr Hugh Jones, CEO of New Zealand based aviation company Airwork; and Mr Steve Padgett, Chairman of the Australian-owned Aeromil Group of Companies, involved in a wide range of aviation activities.