Nov 25, 2012

Virgin Tiger’s first new route is a country practice

Coffs Harbour wakes to discover it is under siege by dueling airlines, all begging to fly its citizens to and from Sydney for less than petrol money.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Tiger Australia’s first announced route under Virgin Australia’s control is to be Coffs Harbour-Sydney five times a week from 15 February.

The current Virgin Australia service on the route is twice daily returns using a 737-800 and an Embraer E-190, making it a clear choice between uncomfortable and really quite good in that order, while Qantaslink flies up to five return Dash 8s a day, giving a you an opportunity to experience an even higher degree of discomfort than the 737, and for slightly longer depending on the particular model of that turbo-prop family that turns up on the day.

Will Qantas respond to this with a Jetstar A320, which is identically crammed full of tiny seats to the Tiger A320?

We will see.

Virgin Australia’s operational policy for Tiger differs from that of Qantas with Jetstar, in that Virgin will not code share nor display the Tiger options on its website, and run the brand as a totally separate entity intended to give its shareholders participation in the budget airline part of the travel market.

It is a moot point as to whether it is more uncomfortable over a short trip like Coffs Harbour-Sydney to get it over with faster in an 180 seat configured A320 or fly for longer at a lower altitude in a Dash 8,  which like the Embraers have no middle seats, but in the case of the turbo-prop, somewhat smaller seats.

Coffs Harbour is going to be spoiled, if not creased and folded, by the choices, but it looks like the most expensive options on the route will be the Countrylink trains or driving your own car.

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3 thoughts on “Virgin Tiger’s first new route is a country practice

  1. gapot

    The comfort on Virgin in the 737 is terrible so if Tiger is going to be their new ultra low comfort airline, there will be medical staff required at every airport in Australia. Could be a new way of generating cash flow for the airport owners.

  2. Creeper

    Ben would it be fair to say that Virgin will now pull off this route?

  3. Ben Sandilands

    Virgin has about 280 seats a day each way on the sector, so I’m not convinced they would give them up for 180 seats on Tiger on five days out of seven.

    But I am surprised they haven’t yet replaced the jets with ATR72s with increased frequency, since they would get a huge fuel saving as well as a better spread of scheduled times while acknowledging that the Q400s are very fast but do burn more fuel.

    Assuming Sydney slots weren’t a problem either.

    Maybe trying to think out of the square the next thing that would happen at Coffs Harbour would be a convincing offering by one of the operators for a daily or twice daily to Brisbane by turbo-prop, and a non-stop jet or turbo-prop to either Canberra or Melbourne, if the existing point to point trade on such combinations looks worth trying to develop, and connections over Canberra in some cases must be approaching salable in terms of convenience.

    But every one will be keeping their cards up their sleeves on this, and they have the data to support whatever decision they take.

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