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Sydney morning route grounded

Virgin Blue has done away with its early morning return flight from Sydney.
Virgin Blue has done away with its early morning return flight from Sydney.

VIRGIN Blue has finally confirmed the worst fears of Coffs Coast commuters – it has axed its early morning return flight from Sydney for good.

Last week a Virgin spokesman refused to say whether the axing of the morning service, effective Friday, was a permanent or temporary change.

Indeed as late as yesterday the Virgin Blue website was taking bookings for the morning flight from July onwards.

When alerted to that situation, a Virgin spokeswoman said late yesterday the website was to be changed as soon as possible.

Initially the airline said the decision was due to economic reasons attached to the route, but yesterday there was a new take on that message.

“We operate six Embraer E170 aircraft and have found these uneconomic for our operations,” a spokeswoman said via a statement.

“We are in the process of selling these aircraft.

"They will in due course be replaced by another aircraft type, but in the meantime we had no choice but to re-time a limited number of services that were operating on these aircraft.”

The spokeswoman would not be drawn on whether a morning service would ever again be offered on the Coffs Harbour route.

On the weekend Sara Wilks was anxious to get the situation qualified as she was booked on the early Virgin flight in August to make an international connection.

She was not convinced when she was told that there was no change to the schedule and the early flight was operating as usual.

“I said to the call centre person that I didn’t want to be notified a week prior to my travel as I have an onward flight from Sydney to London at 2pm that day,” Ms Wilks said.

After being told by another operator that if indeed the early flight was cancelled she would be transferred to another flight, Ms Wilks decided not to jeopardise her forward connection and cancelled her ticket.

“I was told I would forfeit not just a $25 fee for paying by credit card, but that as I had paid for a Go Fare, Virgin would not refund me any money at all.

“I don’t think it is fair.”

Given Virgin Blue’s confirmation today the flight had indeed been axed, Ms Wilks must now have a clear case for full reimbursement of all fees.

I was told I would forfeit not just a $25 fee for paying by credit card, but that as I had paid for a Go Fare Virgin would not refund me any money at all.



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