18/08/2014 - 15:28

Virgin to cut back services to Albany, Esperance

18/08/2014 - 15:28

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Virgin Australia today announced it would reduce its scheduled flights between Perth and Albany, and Perth and Esperance, from three to two each weekday.

Virgin to cut back services to Albany, Esperance

Virgin Australia today announced it would reduce its scheduled flights between Perth and Albany, and Perth and Esperance, from three to two each weekday.

Virgin said it applied to the Department of Transport to amend its flight schedule “to safeguard the long-term viability of its services”.

“Despite our best efforts to stimulate the market through airfare pricing and promotional activity, the Albany and Esperance routes continue to sustain unacceptable losses,” Virgin Australia group regional executive Merren McArthur said.

The airline warned that proposed changes to the schedule would also affect some triangulated services to Busselton and Ravensthorpe, but would continue to operate in both cities.

“Over the last four years we have reduced the average fares on these routes by around 20 per cent and participated in local marketing and community initiatives to drive demand for these services,” Ms McArthur said.

“During the same period, passenger numbers have risen by only 1.1 per cent.

“This performance is not sustainable and we believe these frequency changes are necessary to ensure we can continue to provide the air services to the Esperance and Albany communities.”

Virgin has served these routes since May 2013 after buying Skywest.

Tourism Council WA chief executive officer Evan Hall expressed concern at the news, saying aviation services for non-mining towns were under strain.

“We are seeing less competition and reduced number of flights,” Mr Hall said.

“Local towns are vulnerable to higher airfares and reduced travel options.”

He said the state government must ensure that minimum air services were guaranteed for regional towns.

“(The) government should look at proper regulation and subsidies to ensure minimum services are maintained,” Mr Hall said.

The proposed schedule changes will commence from November 11 2014.

Virgin's share price closed at 38 cents per share.

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