Virgin Blue has announced that it will commence three times weekly services from Perth to the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on April 1.
The airline will operate the services with a 104-seat Embraer E-190 (pictured), which it says will allow it to upload more freight and reduce flying time compared to the current services operated by a Cobham Aviation Services Australia BAe 146. The services are subsidised by the federal government, although Virgin Blue is expecting to grow the amount of tourism traffic on the route.
“Being literally only a few hours from Perth, Christmas and Cocos Islands are hands down two of the best, unspoilt and truly unique island holiday destinations our region has to offer,” said CEO Brett Godfrey. “As with other markets we’ve entered we’re confident our new services will further stimulate tourism to these most remarkable jewels in the Indian Ocean and also help to strengthen relations with the mainland.”
Services to the Indian Ocean Territories have been operated by Cobham/National Jet Systems for a number of years under a government contract. In 2009, the now defunct SkyAirWorld was awarded the contract to operate the services with an E-190, but the airline collapsed before it operated any services, and Cobham continued to operate flights on an interim basis.