Paying a high price for flights

THE cost of early morning air travel to Sydney since Virgin Blue rescheduled its flights out of Coffs Harbour could be having an adverse economic impact on business and industry.

Regular commuters have openly expressed their disappointment since the airline rescheduled its cut-price morning flights to an afternoon service last month.

The feedback from business owners, travelling medicos and ordinary everyday commuters has been heard loud and clear by the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber president Peter Lubans says there’s a growing concern that Virgin’s flight rollback is impacting on business, tourism and the Coffs Harbour economy.

“This issue has created some angst within the business community and also for the ordinary community,” Mr Lubans said.

“There has also been an overall disappointment expressed in the manner in which Virgin introduced the changes to its flight schedule without prior notification.”

It is said the move to a later service has placed added demand on Qantaslink’s morning flights to and from Sydney.

An online booking inquiry shows these airfares are also fetching a premium.

A last-minute return booking (without discounts) with Qantaslink this week would set you back $910.

The cheaper one-way rate for loyal customers meanwhile is $245.

“We are also hearing some people who want to fly to Sydney for a morning appointment and return the same day, cannot afford to do so, at those rates . . . some are even reverting to driving to Sydney due to the cost,” Mr Lubans said.

The chamber has met with Virgin representatives discussing the need for a second early morning service in Coffs Harbour.

“The executive in charge of individual flight scheduling said the issue would be reassessed, but could not give a timetable when and if this would happen,” Mr Lubans said.

The chamber is advising business owners and the general flying public to book flights well in advance to avoid the impost of last-minute price hikes.

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