Flights could return - but not soon

A GLIMMER of hope remains that Virgin Blue will re-instate its early morning Coffs Harbour service, but it won’t happen overnight.

That’s the state of play according to Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce president Peter Lubans, who yesterday phoned the airline’s group executive (commercial), Liz Savage.

Mr Lubans said he wanted to “find out exactly what the story was” following our coverage of the Virgin Blue decision to axe the service.

“She explained there has been a re-timing of the fleet because of the sale of some aircraft and in that regard our 8am scheduled flights to Sydney were not available,” he said.

“She said they didn’t have the aircraft required to do that but they had anticipated getting another aircraft to fill that early morning slot.

“That was to be arriving in July but apparently that has been delayed also. They can not commit to an exact time when that arrives.

“She did say, however, she was well aware of the need for that flight and they will be doing whatever they can ...  but she gave no guarantees.”

Mr Lubans said from a commercial viewpoint, the airline would lose money and business if the service did not return.

“I put to her (Ms Savage) the effect on our businesses and I said many of our businesses have been disadvantaged and very disappointed with the mismanagement and announcement of the changes.

“Qantaslink is there already but our concern is they are a smaller aircraft and so those wanting to fly will have to book earlier. There will be less economy seats available.

“I think it could have been handled a lot better by Virgin in letting people know what was happening.

“We’re just going to have to wait see what Virgin will do.

“It’s a big cost to business and the community, which has grown to depend on the two airlines.”

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