Virgin Airlines
Virgin Airlines

'No cuts' to Nth Coast services

VIRGIN Australia has pledged not to cut air services to northern New South Wales in spite of congestion woes at Sydney Airport.

Regional areas are tipped to be the first to suffer as a result of NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell's decision not to plan for a second airport, but a Virgin spokeswoman said services to Coffs Harbour and Ballina would not be affected.

The spokeswoman said the airline was working closely with the government to "protect" current slots for regional routes, but admitted there were no plans to increase services.

Current predictions suggest that by 2020 only planes carrying more than 70 passengers will be allowed to land at Sydney Airport.

Both the Coffs Harbour and Ballina Virgin services can accommodate 176 passengers, but Qantaslink and Regional Express aircraft seat far fewer.

Passenger restrictions would be particularly detrimental to other regional airports like Casino and Grafton, which are only serviced by the smaller airlines.

When asked how the restrictions would effect Virgin services to other parts of NSW, including Port Macquarie, the spokeswoman could only say "we have been working closely with the government on the recommendations of the joint study relating to the limits on growth of new services by smaller-capacity aircraft beyond 2020 to ensure that any potential decision is competitively neutral".

Qantas was contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.


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