Virgin to sell entire Fokker 50 fleet

Virgin Australia Fokker 50 VH-FNA. (Dave Parer)
A Virgin Australia Fokker 50, VH-FNA. (Dave Parer)

Virgin Australia’s regional arm is disposing of its eight Fokker 50s and adding four Fokker 100s and an Airbus A320 as part of fleet and operational changes in Western Australia.

The 46-seat Fokker 50s have been used to serve West Australian government regulated routes to Albany, Esperance and Ravensthorpe in the state’s south west, as well as regular public transport (RPT) flights to Geraldton and charter and fly-in/fly-out services to other centres in the state.

However, with Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) confirming in September it would not bid to continue Albany, Esperance and Ravensthorpe in the current tender, as well as the changing nature of the mining sector given the transition from mining construction to production, the Fokker 50s have become surplus to requirements.

“Following an extensive review, the decision has been made to decommission and dispose of the airline’s eight Fokker 50 aircraft in the first half of 2016 due to a negative commercial outlook for its F50 operations,” Virgin said in a statement.

“The Virgin Australia Group continually reviews our operations, including our fleet, to ensure optimal utilisation and to meet customer demand.”

It was anticipated that the Perth-Geraldton route would be upgraded to the Fokker 100. Moreover, the cabin interiors of all 14 of the 100-seat aircraft were currently being upgraded.

The four additional Fokker 100s, including two of the type purchased from Alliance Aviation in May, are already in service, as is the one additional Airbus A320, a Virgin spokesperson confirmed to Australian Aviation.

Virgin Australia Fokker 100 at Perth. (Chris Frame)
A Virgin Australia Fokker 100, Fokker 50 and A320 at Perth Airport.

While there is a net reduction of three aircraft in the VARA fleet with the disposal of eight Fokker 50s offset by the acquisition of four Fokker 100s and one A320, the introduction of larger aircraft represented an overall increase in capacity.

The addition of the bigger Fokker 100 and A320s also reflected the withdrawal of some smaller mining players, who used the Fokker 50 to fly their workers to the mines, and the ongoing need of larger capacity aircraft for the major miners.

Virgin will cease flights to Albany, Esperance and Ravensthorpe on February 27 2016, when its current contract with the WA government ends.

Regional Express and Skippers Aviation were understood to have applied for the Perth-Albany and Perth-Esperance routes, with the WA government expected to announce the results of the tender before the end of 2015.

Read more about the Australian regional aviation market in the November edition of Australian Aviation magazine, on sale Thursday October 29.


  1. douglas Jones says

    Virgin needs ATR 72 and ATR 42 to replace the Fokker. and needs to get rid of the Heinz Variety of aircraft

  2. Dave says

    So Virgin come in and buy out SkyWest. Cut the routes, sell the aircraft. Leave WA with a poorer regional air service. What was the point?

  3. David says

    Another thing to realise is that the date the flights cease to be operated is the Labor Day long weekend in WA. And I’ve always flown to Esperance that weekend and the flights are full

  4. Swannie says

    Well what a surprise.

    VARA, like the parent has never made a dime under Borghetti and McArthur. VARA in particular has been nothing but a cash wasteland since VA took over.

    It ignored the regional RPT market, totally destroying the goodwill Skywest had maintained over near 50 years through mismanagement at every level. It couldnt even make money on regulated, monopoly routes.

    On Charter it over promised and continually under delivered and flew for clients who just did not pay their bills.

    That is just plain reckless yet the same senior executives remain. How???

    Come on John, have a good hard look at what is continuing to happen in WA and actually give a damn.

  5. Shane says

    Hey John.

    YOU SAID : these high time F50’s can’t be worth much ? AUD$500k each or less ?

    The engines alone on each aircraft are worth over $1 million for both let alone the airframes !

    Yes they are high time > but tough, well built Dutch Tugs FYI.

    They would make a top freighter at option at 7 tonns capacity !!!

  6. says

    Probably a good thing they are retiring them, the Fokker 100 and A320 would be a better choice for regional operations.

  7. Adrian P says

    What would be the range be if the MTOW was reduced by carrying less fuel.? A 1000km?
    Does the reduced range cover most of the routes flown?

  8. Stu Bee says

    @Aden O’keefe-Buckton

    Fokker F50 ugly? seriously? They are beautiful and elegant ladies.
    You must be a fan of a380’s – the bloated blob of the sky

  9. Jake says

    Fokker 50 is a brilliant aircraft. With the amount of cargo Albany gets, a Skippers Dash 8 will struggle (providing they get the contracts) if they were to continue getting the amount of cargo VARA currently get.