By James Wilkinson
Virgin Blue’s long-awaited Sydney-Hamilton Island direct daily flights have taken off for the first time, breaking the longstanding monopoly Jetstar has had on the lucrative route.
Fun in the sun: Deni Hines, Tania Zaetta, Mike Goldman,
Melissa Hoyer and Bianca Dye on Hamilton Island
The airline’s inaugural flight last Saturday (Jul 4) was celebrated at both ends, with farewell festivities at Sydney Airport and a glamorous dinner on Hamilton Island, which featured a performance by signer Deni Hines.
Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey said the decision to launch the direct service was made following consistent demand from Sydney travellers for Virgin Blue flights to Hamilton Island via Brisbane.
“Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Tourism has been very active in convincing us to launch a direct route from Sydney and we are pleased to be in a position to do so,” Godfrey said.
“We have every confidence in the appeal of the Whitsunday region as one of Australia’s most popular destinations and we look forward to working with the region to boost tourism numbers and make the new direct service a success,” he said.
The new flights are a huge boost for meetings and conferences on Hamilton and the neighbouring islands, particularly with the new yacht club and golf course set to open later this year.
Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Burke has whole-heartedly welcomed the new Virgin Blue services.
“We are delighted that Virgin Blue is offering this new service to our guests from Sydney who will now be able to enjoy greater flexibility in their travels to and from Hamilton Island,” he said.
“This is also perfect timing for all that we have happening on the Island this year with Race Week in August and the opening of our new Yacht Club and Golf Club around the same time.
“We also believe that guests at our world class resort, qualia, will be excited to take advantage of Virgin Blue’s Premium Economy experience,” Burke said.
While every day lead-in fares start from $165 one way on the net, all eyes will be on Premium Economy. For the first time since Jetstar replaced Qantas services, premium seating will be available on the Sydney-Hamilton Island route.
SpiceNews will be reporting live from Hamilton Island and Hayman Island on July 28 and 30. Look out for a series of special reports on both days.