Virgin Australia has received approval from the West Australian government to reduce flights on regulated routes to four regional towns in the state’s south.
As part of the changes due to be gradually introduced from December 5, the number of Perth-Albany flights will be cut to 15 per week, from 20 currently, while the Perth-Esperance route will have five fewer flights at 13 per week.
Meanwhile, Virgin said it would serve Busselton with a once weekly direct service, rather than as part of a Perth-Busselton-Albany route.
And Ravensthorpe would no longer receive its once a week direct flight. Instead, Virgin will serve the town twice at week with a Perth-Esperance-Ravensthorpe-Perth routing.
Virgin, which served these communities with Fokker 50 aircraft, proposed reducing services to these regional towns in August, citing unacceptable losses on those routes.
The airline said on Friday the new timetable was a result of extensive consultation between the airline, the WA government and local community.
“The new flight timetable is designed to maintain the best possible schedule and help ensure the long term viability of the services to Albany, Esperance, Busselton and Ravensthorpe,” Virgin Australia Regional Airlines chief executive Merren McArthur said in a statement.
“We appreciate the professional evaluation process, especially the contribution of the Department of Transport and community consultation groups, which ensured the best possible outcome for all involved.
“We look forward to continuing to provide vital air services to Albany, Esperance, Busselton and Ravensthorpe.
The Esperance Express newspaper reported in August the Perth-Esperance route carried 51,116 passengers in 2013/14 with just under 90,000 available seats, according to figures from the Shire of Esperance.
Virgin’s contract for these regulated routes was due to end in February 2016.
The state government was currently conducting a review of WA regulated routes.