Virgin flights will bring competition

VIRGIN may offer variety and competition, but not all Emerald flyers will make the switch when the airline touches down in January.

The carrier promises to offer price competitiveness - although the company is withholding fares until closer to the January 16 maiden flight, but Lilli Brown Boutique manager Tina McCord said she would remain a loyal QantasLink passenger.

Tina flies out of Emerald at least 20 times a year for work, and although she welcomes the competition Virgin will bring, she would probably remain a Qantas frequent flyer.

"They've got the Qantas lounge now, and I'm a member, so I will probably still be a Qantas customer," she said.

"Competition is great for the community, but I've never been let down by Qantas. In fact, I think my plane has only been delayed about twice in the past six years."

But Dave Sneyd, who flies twice a month, said if the price is right, he will make the switch.

"I fly because it is a quick way to get back and forth from Emerald to the coast," he said.

"Virgin coming to Emerald will be great. Qantas needs to make its flights more reasonable for locals who choose to fly with them."

Dave, like many Emerald residents, is hoping that as Virgin breaks the Qantas monopoly in the Central Highlands, there will be a forced price reduction and it will allow him to fly more often.

"At the end of the day, I don't care who I fly with as long as the price is right," he said.

"The more flights available the better."

Virgin Australia Group Executive Merren McArthur said the 68-seater ATR turbo prop services would start the twice-daily weekday services between Emerald and Brisbane from next year.

"We're proud to add Emerald to the growing network of regional destinations that Virgin Australia now serves," she said.

"Our new services will bring choice and competitive fares for travel to and from this important mining hub."

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