28 July 2011:
From 17 October 2011, Virgin Australia will start services with the Skywest ATR72s on the following routes:
- Brisbane to Gladstone – two services daily from 17 Oct 2011;
- Brisbane to Port Macquarie – one daily return service from 19 Oct 2011;
- Sydney to Canberra – up to six daiy return services (extra services) from 30 Oct 2011;
- Sydney to Port Macquarie – two services daily; (ATR72s replacing the current Embraer E170s) from 19 Oct 2011.
Delivery of the first of up to 18 ATR72s for Skywest, which are to be operated on behalf of Virgin Australia, has been delayed. The originally announced delivery of the initial aircraft was “May 2011”. Later, Skywest made a stock exchange announcement that delivery was to be “by 30 June 2011”.
Two aircraft will now be delivered together, and it was announced that the first two ATR aircraft are named after the Far North Queensland beaches:
VH-FVH (cn 954, ex F-WWEG) – named “Mission Beach”
VH-FVI (cn 955, ex F-WWEH) – named “Four-Mile Beach”.
The aircraft will be acquired by Skywest on 10-year lease from Avation PLC, for operation on behalf of Virgin Australia.
The initial order is for eight aircraft with five options – the first four aircraft will be ATR72-500s, followed by four ATR72-600s. The ATR72-500s are to be replaced in 2012 by ATR72-600s. The -600s have more powerful PW127F engines, and more advanced flight decks and cabins.