Virgin Blue Group and Skywest airlines signed (10-Jan-2011) a 10-year strategic alliance to service regional Australia, with Skywest operating up to 18 new Virgin Blue-branded turboprop aircraft to a number of existing and new destinations around Australia. The agreement will mean Virgin Blue and Skywest codeshare on a number of sectors of each other’s domestic networks and allows passengers to earn and redeem Velocity reward points on each other’s networks. Virgin CEO John Borghetti stated the first aircraft will arrive mid-2011 with four Virgin Blue-branded aircraft in operation by year-end. The new aircraft fleet will be leased from specialist leasing company Avation PLC, with an initial term of 10 years. The announcement completes the third phase of the Virgin Blue Group’s network review to strengthen its domestic network, increase profitability and provide more choice for passengers. [more]
Virgin Blue: “By partnering with the preeminent regional airline in Australia, Virgin Blue is investing in building a substantial network in regional Australia and strengthening its domestic network. This alliance will significantly benefit regional Australia as well as being a win-win for Skywest and Virgin Blue. The combined strength of our networks, along with the additional capacity we will deliver with new aircraft, will provide travellers with more frequent flights, better schedules and competitive fares. The partnership will see Virgin Blue expand its reach throughout regional Australia and will allow us to access untapped opportunities in regional Australian markets, in particular the booming fly-in fly-out resource sector market,” John Borghetti, CEO and Managing Director. Source: Virgin Blue, 10-Jan-2011.
SkyWest: "In addition to providing Skywest with access to Virgin Blue’s extensive network, this major strategic initiative provides us with the opportunity to significantly grow our corporate travel offer forresource sector and charter clients across Australia and internationally. The leasing arrangement means that Skywest will not be exposed to the capital investment of owning the aircraft and will be a service provider and code-share partner," Jeff Chatfield, Chairman. Source: Source: Virgin Blue, 10-Jan-2011.