Big blue over Virgin decision
COMMUTERS and holiday travellers have been left stunned and angry by Virgin Blue’s decision to axe its early morning flights to and from Sydney as of this Friday.
Last week, the Advocate exclusively revealed that Virgin Blue was cancelling its early-morning commuter service and replacing it with a flight leaving Sydney at 11.40am and returning to Sydney at 1.15pm.
The airline would be retaining its late afternoon flight.
A representative for the carrier – who was initially not aware of the change – said the new timetable was part of the company’s ongoing monitoring of schedules and performance across the country. They would neither confirm nor deny whether the change was permanent or temporary.
Regular commuter Northern Beaches-based company director Colin Scully said he was shocked when he heard about the axing of the morning flight.
“I am holding five fully-booked and paid flights but have not heard a thing from Virgin,” Mr Scully said.
“I have also organised a group holiday for 10 people and we are booked to fly to Sydney on the early flight next month so we can make other connections but I haven’t had any contact from Virgin.”
Mr Scully said a phone call to the airline’s call centre didn’t give him any reassurance.
“The person I spoke to was not aware of any change to the schedule,” Mr Scully said.
“When I finally got to speak to someone who knew about the changes I was told the new timetable was due to commercial reasons.
“I fly once or twice a month and usually it is packed or close to full so I find that hard to believe.
“Even more worrying is that when you go on the Virgin website you can book the early morning flight from July onwards. I wonder if Virgin even knows what is going on.”
Steve Moody is another businessman caught out by Virgin’s new timetable.
“Like my fellow Sydney business travellers and those wishing to connect in Sydney to the rest of Virgin’s network, this schedule change will have a major impact on Coffs Coast business and leisure market,” Mr Moody said.
“This is in direct conflict with Virgin’s claim of being the airline of choice for both the corporate and leisure markets.
“Again, Coffs Coast gets below-standard treatment for inter-city travel.
“The cost of travel to and from Coffs Harbour – unless you are travelling mid-week or at outlandish travel times – makes it one of the most expensive cities to commute to when compared to inter-capital city flights.
“And that is despite the flights to and from Coffs being mostly filled to capacity during peak times.”
While Mr Moody said he would now be forced to use the 6.30am Qantas flight, Mr Scully wasn’t so keen on that idea.
“To catch the Qantas flight you have to be up at 5am, it is more expensive and prices will now go through the roof now that there is no competition,” Mr Scully said.
“The flight takes longer and the service is frustratingly unreliable.
“But because we’ve all paid for our holiday in Tasmania we’re trapped into accepting the changes.”
Steve Moody is urging travellers and commuters to pressure the airline by going to: www.virginblue.com.au/ContactUs/Feedbackform/index.htm.