The new ATR 72-500 plane could replace the E-170 jets on Virgin Australia flights to Hervey Bay.
The new ATR 72-500 plane could replace the E-170 jets on Virgin Australia flights to Hervey Bay. Alan Betteridge

Fears Virgin cuts may hit hard

SPECULATION is increasing among the local aviation industry that the Fraser Coast could be the latest Virgin Australia destination to begin using a new style of plane that would mean a reduction in seats.

Virgin Australia may begin phasing out the E-170 jets currently in use to replace them with the new ATR 72-500.

The speculation comes just as Fraser Coast Regional Council fights for an increase in services to Sydney and Brisbane.

Fraser Coast Mayor Mick Kruger announced this week, positive recent passenger figures supported their case for new services.

He put much of the growth down to Virgin Australia's direct flights from Hervey Bay to Sydney, which experienced an increase of more than 16,500 passengers in the past year, all on the E-170 jets.

Virgin Australia has already announced they will begin using the ATR on all their new regional routes between Brisbane, Gladstone and Port Macquarie from October 17.

The ATR has only 68 seats compared to the 72 seats on the E-170.

It made one of its first Australian appearances at the Wide Bay Airshow last weekend.

Virgin Australia spokesman Melissa Thomson said the airline had not announced the change.

“We continually review our network and make changes where necessary,” she said.



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