Virgin schedules ATR services from Melbourne

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 29, 2014
File image of a Virgin ATR 72-600. (Seth Jaworski)
File image of a Virgin ATR 72-600. (Seth Jaworski)

Virgin Australia looks set to open a couple of new routes for its fleet of ATR turboprop aircraft out of Melbourne.

According to schedules from Virgin’s website, the airline will start Melbourne-Canberra flights with ATR 72-600s on November 10, while turboprops will begin operating between Melbourne and Launceston from November 16.

The move to replace some jet-operated services from Melbourne with turboprops was flagged in September, when Virgin sent an ATR 72-600 to Tullamarine and Launceston for what the airline said at the time was staff training and route familiarisation flights.

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A Melbourne-Canberra flight was blocked at either 85 or 80 minutes with the ATR, some 15 minutes longer than the 65- or 70-minute duration for Boeing 737-800 services.

Melbourne-Launceston was blocked at 85 minutes for the ATR service, 15 or 20 minutes longer than jet-operated flights.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed the airline would operate a “selection of flights” from Melbourne to Launceston and Melbourne to Canberra.

“The introduction of this aircraft enables Virgin Australia to maintain its frequency on these routes while ensuring fares remain competitive,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

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Currently, Virgin operated 12 ATR aircraft in its fleet, the spokesperson said. They fly from Sydney and Brisbane to regional centres in Queensland and NSW, as well as between Sydney and Canberra.

The Virgin spokesperson said the airline did not intend to open an ATR base in Melbourne at this time.

Getting turboprops to Melbourne would allow Virgin to shift some services from 98-seat E190s to 68-seat ATRs, or replace one 176-seat Boeing 737 with two ATR services, depending on demand and frequency requirements.

Qantas currently operates Bombardier Q400 turboprops, in addition to jet services, between Canberra and Melbourne. It has also deployed turboprops on the Canberra-Adelaide (125 minutes) and Canberra-Brisbane (125 minutes) route.

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12 Comments

  • reeves35

    says:

    I wonder how long before they announce Devonport as a new destination. The local council there has been trying to attract them for years to counter the monopoly fares currently charged by QantasLink.

  • Mark

    says:

    When are Virgin ATR services planned to commence from Perth?

  • Tyman88

    says:

    Watch out rex and qf, virgin regional in TAS and VIC is a coming….

  • Stroppy old lady

    says:

    That is why I fly VA over QF from Canberra as I won’t get stuck on some slow moving prop driven aircraft. The E190 was excellent for this route. Lets see how high the fares go now on this already overpriced route.

  • Graeme Hooper

    says:

    be great if Virgin would increase frequency on NTL- MEl route with aircraft freed up at more travel friendly times in morning and night.

  • Stu Bee

    says:

    @ Stroppy old lady – Your statement doesn’t make sense? Sector times on a Q400 between SYD-CNB is almost identical to B738 service and more fun!

  • Captain

    says:

    Currently they use the Embrer between LTS – MEL.
    Will these be the ones replaced by the ATR???

  • keigo Namba

    says:

    Good if Virgin ATR aircrafts fly in/out from Avalon Airport rather that from Tuallmarine

  • John

    says:

    QF use Dash 8’s CBR/BNE 5 times a week in each direction, so will this mean that VA will also put ATR’s on CBR/BNE ?

  • franz chong

    says:

    I can’t help but think for most of the services we have gone back to what life was like before the 727 and later DC9/737’S came on the scene in Australia with the use of prop jets on most flights.

  • Glen CBR

    says:

    Virgin Australia is proud to announce the forthcoming introduction of the latest Cobb & Co. horse-drawn coaches on all routes into and out of Canberra. This coincides with the Qantas’ announcement that, in the very near future, Canberra services will be operated through a Joint Venture arrangement with NSW CountryLink trains on the Canberra/Monaro Express via Sydney.
    Canberra International Airport will redevelop its current site into long term parking for IKEA and Costco.

    Gee! Why is the Canberra Tourism industry struggling?

  • Mark @ CBR

    says:

    Q400’s are a more suitable turboprop aircraft for a longer route than the ATR’s fifteen minutes on routes like CBR MEL and LST MEL is a decent time saving

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