Virgin’s ATR era begins

Virgin ATR flights to Canberra will begin on Wedensday. (photo courtesy Paul Sadler/Airservices Australia)

Virgin Australia’s first ATR 72 RPT flight departed Brisbane for Gladstone this morning, signaling the start of the airline’s new regional turboprop operations.

Virgin Australia flight DJ 1711 departed Brisbane for Gladstone at 10.30am. The airline is using the 68-seat ATRs, which are operated by Skywest on Virgin Australia’s behalf, for the new twice daily Brisbane-Gladstone service (three times weekly from January 16), while ATR flights on the Canberra-Sydney route are due to begin on Wednesday, with DJ 629 due to depart Canberra for Sydney at 7.15am.

“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,” Filippo Bagnato, ATR CEO said. “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.”

To date four ATR 72-500s and four ATR 72-600s have been ordered for Virgin Australia, with options on a further five -600s.