Alliance has blamed Queensland’s border closures for its decision to suspend its service between Brisbane and Bundaberg.
However, the cancellation, effective from 28 September, means the airline will now be able to increase flights from the state’s capital to Gladstone to 12 per week.
The business’ chief executive, Lee Schofield, said that while the carrier maintained the Bundaberg service through the height of the pandemic earlier this year, recent border closures had stopped connecting traffic through Brisbane, making the route “unviable”.
“The decision to suspend services to Bundaberg was not taken lightly,” Schofield said.
Alliance has operated the Bundaberg–Brisbane service in collaboration with Virgin Australia since July 2017, with one flight per day in a ‘triangle’ stop-off service with Gladstone.
The suspension means that services between the state capital and Gladstone will now all become direct and will increase in frequency to operate twice weekdays and then once on Saturday and Sunday.
“We have valued the support received from residents and local businesses over this time and look forward to further increasing our services on this route,” Schofield said.
To mark the increase in services, Alliance will offer $79 one-way, all-inclusive fares between Gladstone and Brisbane for sale between 14–20 September.
Last month, Australian Aviation reported how Alliance agreed a $111 million deal to purchase 14 114-seater Embraer E190s.
The business said the aircraft will predominantly fly regional routes and hinted its moderate size made it perfect for a post-COVID-19 market.
In May, the airline surprisingly announced it had increased profits this financial year by $7 million, which it credited to its ability to adapt planes for coronavirus.
The deal with US-based Azorra Aviation will see the first of the 14 E190s arrive from September and also includes six spare General Electric CF34 engines, as well as the option to acquire a further five of the Embraer jets.
Alliance currently operates a fleet of 24 Fokker F100, 13 Fokker 70LR jet aircraft and five Fokker 50 turboprops with an additional F70LR to enter the fleet in 2020.
The aviation industry has in recent weeks ramped up lobbying against state border closures, with Qantas even writing to state and federal MPs in Queensland and WA to ask them to reject what the airline calls “arbitrary” restrictions.
The business also urged all its employees to sign a new petition that argues curtailing movement across states should be “risk-assessed” against an agreed definition of a COVID-19 hotspot.
In July, before the second round of border closures and hardenings, Jetstar sold 10,000 $19 tickets in just four hours.
The Qantas Group said then the response highlighted the “huge pent up demand” for air travel.