By ERWIN CHLANDA
Adam Giles has a bet – a bottle of Grange – with Virgin boss John Borghetti that air fares will decrease across the Adelaide, Alice, Darwin airline sector by 27% or more: “I’m looking forward to paying that,” says the Chief Minister, hastening to add that he’s not encouraging gambling.
He was a passenger on this morning’s inaugural flight that made The Alice a two airline destination again, after the departure of Tiger last year.
Mr Giles says Virgin is seeking to push into regional areas, and the “iconic location” in The Centre was an obvious choice.
Virgin’s Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton says: “Typically when we enter a new market we see airfares dropping by 20% to 30%.
“This market will be absolutely no different to the strategy we deployed in other parts of the country.”
Dave Batic (at right), who is the chairman of the industry Tourism Central Australia as well as the manager of the airport, says: “Only 11% of international passengers coming to the Territory are coming through Darwin.
“With the introduction of Virgin, and their associated airlines such as Singapore Airlines, there is going to be improved connectivity for international travelers.”
He says Virgin’s arrival is “another avenue to improve tourism. We are targeting the international market, through Darwin.
“And the ability to fly to New Zealand from Alice Springs on the Virgin network, through Darwin or Adelaide, is real now, and very competitive,” says Mr Batic.
PHOTOS: Virgin will nip Qantas in the tail • Mr Giles was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight.
Virgin new link to Centre for overseas tourists
By ERWIN CHLANDA