Virgin Australia has announced plans to resume flights from Brisbane to Mount Isa, raising hopes in the mining centre that competition will lead to lower fares.
Qantas has held a monopoly on the route since Virgin withdrew from Mount Isa in 2001, saying competition from the flying Kangaroo left it unable to fill its seats.
But Virgin is a far larger airline today than it was 10 years ago and is in a considerably better position to compete. The resumption of Mount Isa flights was announced in a joint statement with mining company Xstrata, indicating key industry support for the move.
Mount Isa officials also welcomed the announcement, saying lower fares could make the remote Queensland community a more attractive place to live for workers put off by the high cost of getting there and away.
Virgin said it expected to begin the weekday service in August.
Separately, Virgin announced that it will introduce business class seats on selected 737-800 flights from Melbourne and Sydney to the Sunshine Coast from May 30.