News

Virgin to touch down in Emerald?

TAKING OFF: Virgin Blue could be Emerald bound.
TAKING OFF: Virgin Blue could be Emerald bound. cont

QANTASLINK’S Central Highlands’ air service monopoly could be broken, with Virgin Blue confirming it is assessing Emerald as a possible regional route destination.

Central Highlands Regional Council Commercial Services general manager Col Dziewicki said it made sound business sense for a rival carrier to consider Emerald Airport, which is currently undergoing a $7 million terminal upgrade.

However, he threw up two immediate hurdles.

“We haven’t had any correspondence with Virgin for a couple of years and an issue that comes with this is we could go and spend $600,000-700,000 on baggage screening equipment that is needed solely for the service they provide, and they could turn around in a month and say it’s not working, and we’re left holding the baby,” he said.

“They would also have to get a concession from CASA because of the runway width.”

On the flipside, Mr Dziewicki welcomed the opportunity for more competitive ticket pricing for travellers.

“It would drive prices down I believe, and put more volume through the airport, which would allow us to control our own pricing better.

“There’s definitely money to be made in it, so I’d certainly be looking at it.”

Mr Dziewicki said historically the Central Highlands had shown it could support two commercial airlines when Flight West was the second carrier until it folded in 2001.

A 370 per cent increase in passenger numbers through Emerald Airport since 1998-99 to 120,000 last year was another strong indicator the marketplace was big enough to support two large commercial carriers as well as the existing raft of smaller-scale operators.

“I guess this year the growth hasn’t been as much, but it’s growth where a lot of other places are showing losses, so we’re still a strong market here,” commented Mr Dziewicki.

“The whisper is the mining boom is about to really hit the area, but you ain’t seen anything yet.

“We are in a good position to be prepared for strong growth in services.”

Mr Dziewicki said indications were Qantaslink was going to take three of the six check-ins at the new terminal, due for completion in June, and establish a Qantas lounge for its customers.

The airline was showing ‘plenty of confidence’ in the future of the Central Highlands, he added, praising Qantaslink’s ability to consistently provide ‘good aircraft, good schedules and good service’.

Virgin’s media relations manager Amanda Bolger confirmed the Emerald route was under consideration, as well as an expansion into the Gladstone market, but was short on detail.

Gladstone Airport is currently undergoing a $65 million transformation of its runway.

“It’s no secret we’ve been looking at it (Emerald) for a while,” she said.

“It is one of a number of sites across Australia that has the potential to benefit from Virgin Blue services… but there are no further plans at this stage.”

Virgin would use its 66-seater Embraer 170 and 92-seat 190 jets on any expanded regional network.

Central Queensland News did some comparative internet shopping yesterday, looking for the lowest fares offered by Qantaslink on its Emerald-Brisbane run and Virgin Blue’s Rockhampton-Brisbane return flights.

On Wednesday, January 13, you could soar out of Emerald for $209 on the 6.55pm flight. From Rocky, with no luggage, it was $58.50 for a booking.

Returning on Friday, January 15, the 5.45am Qantaslink flight from Brisbane was $121.

Fifteen minutes later on Virgin Blue, the Go! Fare was $42.50, sans baggage which attracts an extra $10.

A full fare Emerald-Brisbane return is $1100.

Virgin Blue’s premium economy out of Rocky is $858.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Address debt, says financial counsellor

ACT NOW: Don't let debt accumulate, a financial counsellor advises.

Don't let the financial stress mount, says financial counsellor.

Colourful array of stunning art

BLOOMING BEAUTIFUL: A winning entry from last year's Blackwater art exhibition.

If you love art then the 41st Annual Art Competition is for you.

Growing up with a love for local show

BIG OPPORTUNITY: Cheneya Freese is the 2017 Miss Alpha Showgirl.

Cheneya Freese has been named Miss Alpha Showgirl for 2017

Local Partners

Young man's body found in burnt CQ home

MYSTERY surrounds death of a young man found near melted appliances in a burnt-out Emerald unit this morning.

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Caitlyn comes home to launch debut album

Gympie's Caitlyn Shadbolt will launch here debut album Songs On My Sleeve at an exclusive all-ages concert in Gympie on Friday, May 26.

Win tickets to Caitlyn's album launch

Concert death toll revised up to 22, tour suspended

TWENTY-TWO people have been killed and at least 59 people have been injured following a terror attack in Manchester

Casual Keanu says fame is ‘cool’

Keanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

NOBODY expected much of John Wick when it was released in 2014.

Ariana Grande breaks her silence after fatal blast

According to reports quoting witnesses, a mass emergency evacuation was prompted after explosions were heard at the end of US singer Ariana Grande's concert in the arena.

The entertainment industry is in shock after attack on concert

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

Seven Year Switch: The boner to end all boners

Johnny’s outraged over claims he has a cracked boner.

She gulps. Her face says it all.

Bay to star in Hollywood shark thriller ‘Cage Dive’

Cage Dive, written and directed by Gerald Rascionato, is now screening in the United States of America. It had scenes filmed in Hervey Bay.

And our visiting humpback whales also make appearance.

Celebrity sex tapes: Where does all that money go?

Basically, did Paris and Kim earn fortunes from their videos?

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Deputy Premier makes massive call on controversial sand mine

Aerial view of the proposed Forest Glen sand mine.

BREAKING: State Government makes huge call on Coast sand mine plans

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!