Virgin Blue to launch flights between Sydney and Hervey Bay

Travel News Asia 25 August 2004

Virgin Blue is to begin direct flights between Sydney and Hervey Bay in a move that is set to boost tourism in the Fraser Coast region.

Chief Executive Brett Godfrey joined Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and Hervey Bay Mayor Ted Sorensen to make the announcement today.

It is the first time the airline has announced it will launch services to a destination that has an airport currently unable to handle a 737 aircraft.

Virgin Blue has promised its low fare flights to the region once the upgrade of the facility has been completed. Modifications, which are expected to be finished by June 2005, include the lengthening and strengthening of the runway to accommodate the jet service, as well as terminal enhancements.

Chief Executive Brett Godfrey, said, We applaud Hervey Bay Council in making the proactive decision to upgrade the airport, as it allows us to respond to the lobbying and enthusiasm from the local business and tourism community, who have made it clear they want a jet service to and from their region.

Virgin Blue will be the first ever commercial jet airline to service Hervey Bay and is confident the flights will take-off in the same way they have at its other regional Queensland ports such as Mackay, Proserpine, Rockhampton and Townsville.

Brett Godfrey continued, The people of Fraser Coast have seen the impact Virgin Blue flights have had on other destinations and have witnessed how low fares stimulate tourism and business. People living in regional centres, including Hervey Bay, deserve to receive the same kind of affordable, efficient and high serviced airline option as those living in capital cities and we have every intention of bringing it to them.

He added, We would welcome an approach by any regional council who recognises the tremendous economic benefits of upgrading its airport to accommodate a high quality low fare jet service.

Virgin Blues Hervey Bay flight will initially operate four times a week between Sydney and Hervey Bay on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with plans to go to a daily service by the end of 2005 if demand and support justifies the additional flights.

Hervey Bay itself has a lot to offer with its cosmopolitan cafs, relaxed promenade and whale watching opportunities but its close proximity to both Fraser and Lady Elliot Islands means it offers a number of holiday options whether it be for divers wanting to explore the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef or families wanting  some sun, sand and sea-creatures. The region has remained relatively undiscovered by tourists compared to the more well known spots such as Cairns and the Whitsundays but we believe the new direct flights to the area will open new doors, bring more tourists and inject more money into the local economy, Brett Godfrey finished.

Fares and schedules will be announced in early September and the airline will begin taking flight bookings at that time.

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