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Tigerair’s Alice pull-out delivers Qantas a monopoly

May 5, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Citing “an unsustainable level of consumer demand”, Tigerair Australia has announced it will halt its Alice Springs service in July, which it operated from Sydney and Melbourne. It is also pulling off the Melbourne/Sunshine Coast route.

The low-cost carrier resumed its Alice Springs service last year, operating flights from Melbourne and Sydney four times a week.

Tigerair, partially owned by the parent company of Virgin Australia, is expanding elsewhere, having recently launched a Brisbane/Darwin service – but it will “suspend” its Alice Springs and Sunshine Coast services from 22 July 2014.

The decision will deliver Qantas a monopoly on the Alice Springs route – not usually a good idea for fares.

Delegates are already booking for the Ecological Society of Australia conference, a gathering of the world’s leading ecologists to be held in Alice Springs 29 September to 3 October 2014. Hundreds of delegates are expected. A round-trip flight from Sydney for those dates costs about AUD 600 – and that’s using “Red e-ticket” specials, which are selling fast.

“We have been flying to Alice Springs and to the Sunshine Coast for just over a year now and we have worked closely with our tourism and airport partners to promote these services,” Tigerair Australia chief executive Rob Sharp told the ABC.

General manager of Tourism Central Australia, Jaclyn Thorne described the decision as “drastic” and added that the news came as a shock.

“Up until now, sentiment has been really good, loads have been strong, we’ve been receiving feedback that the travellers have been very happy with the service… so we’re all a bit shocked and confused,” she told the ABC.

The return of the airline to Alice Springs had spurred an increase in visitors to the Red Centre, she said. Growth in both international and domestic visitors had exceeded 6% last year.

Tigerair Australia will refund passengers affected.

Meanwhile, Tigerair will double its Sydney/Gold Coast round-trip services from two to four daily.

Written by : Peter Needham

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