Virgin's view

VIRGIN Blue has hit back at claims the airline has hiked the cost of flights to and from Hervey Bay Airport since the withdrawal of Jetstar services on July 31.

Virgin Blue public affairs general manager Heather Jeffery on Tuesday sent the Chronicle an email defending the airline following an article on Saturday about the affect of Jetstar’s decision on residents, businesses and the council on the Fraser Coast.

This is her email unedited:

Dear Jennifer

We feel compelled to respond to the recent article – Business goes down as flights cut into Hervey Bay.

Throughout the article reference is made to Virgin Blue fares being “costly” and, more disturbingly, that the lack of competition has led to a hike in prices.

In the four and a half years we’ve been operating on this route, Virgin Blue’s fares have fluctuated both up and down in line with peak travel times and our current lead-in one-way fare is just $16 more than it was when we launched services in 2005.

The lead-in fare is also comparable to fares on other routes of similar distance in our network where two or more airlines operate services, proving that “lack of competition” is not a factor in our pricing.

A quick Google of the competitors lead-in fares reveals flights between Hervey Bay and Brisbane for $113 one-way or connecting fares via Brisbane to Sydney for $155 one way – both more expensive than Virgin Blue’s current lead-in fare for one-way flights to Sydney of $105.

As Virgin Blue’s lead-in fares from Maroochydore and Sydney start from $99 one way we also question the claim that people would choose to drive the 180+ kilometres and back to save $6 on an airfare.

We are thankful for the support the community has given us thus far and, unlike other airlines, Virgin Blue remains committed to providing the people of Hervey Bay with regular, affordable and, most importantly, long-term sustainable airfares both now and well into the future.

Kind regards

Heather Jeffery

General Manager, Public Affairs

Virgin Blue Airlines Group

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