Regional centres’ plea as airline collapses





VIRGIN Australia's collapse has sent shockwaves through the tourism industry and regional Queensland, with warnings of long-term pain for the Sunshine State.

Since its Australian inception as Virgin Blue in 2000, the company has provided travellers primarily with affordable domestic options.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said it would be a day the tourism industry would rue for a long time.

"Having the aviation market disrupted in this way and its competitiveness threatened will have very significant long-term implications, for not just the tourism industry but for the community in a country that is so decentralised and so dependent on viable air services," he said.

He said when Qantas had no competition 25 years ago, air travel was not an option for many.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the region was hopeful for a guarantee of affordable connectivity that Virgin offered.

"We desperately need to ensure that we have at least a duopoly to keep that commercial and competitive tension to keep the price of airfares down," she said.


A Virgin Airbus A320
A Virgin Airbus A320


The most important detail in the commercial airline market for Cairns Mayor Bob Manning was structure.

"You don't just pluck an airline out of the air and say here it is, it's got to be structured to meet the market," he said.

"Planes point their noses where people want to go, airlines continue to fly where they make a profit."

In a press conference on Monday Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the southeast region would suffer the most when the economy was making its first attempts to recover.

"It doesn't matter how good the marketing is, supply of the air traffic is being reduced remarkably, and the main tourism that Virgin afford us is the domestic market which is really the backbone of our tourism," he said.

Opposition spokesman for Northern Australia Senator Murray Watt said the collapse was bad news for the entire state.

"The completely avoidable outcome will be devastating for those workers and their families, as well as our regional economies," he said.

"Federal Labor was clear about the need to support Virgin in order to maintain two major airlines and provide competition and jobs for thousands of Australians."

Brisbane Airport declined to comment on the matter.



Originally published as Regional centres' plea as airline collapses

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