Drastic flight cuts the ‘new normal’ at Coffs Airport
COFFS Harbour Airport will operate at a drastically reduced capacity over the next few months, as domestic travel plummets nationwide in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and new travel restrictions.
This comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week told Australians to post-pone or cancel any non-essential domestic travel, and a number of states and territories across the nation introduced strict new border controls.
At this stage, between now and June 14, Qantas will be the only airline servicing the Coffs Coast with 12 return trips to Sydney a week. Virgin flights are now suspended and Tigerair has exited the region entirely.
Virgin Australia's low-cost carrier Tigerair had announced in February it would withdraw from the Coffs Coast from April 27 after the Virgin Group recorded a $99 million loss in the first half of the financial year.
In response to a petition signed by thousands of locals, a Virgin Group spokesman told The Advocate the Tigerair Melbourne and Sydney routes were no longer "commercially viable."
However due to the rising urgency of the coronavirus pandemic and the scheduled removal of six Airbus A320 aircraft from its fleet, the airline dropped the region a month earlier than scheduled.
Last week was the final for Tigerair flights to and from Coffs Harbour.
Tigerair flights have also been temporarily suspended nationwide.
The Virgin Group has also suspended all Virgin flights to and from Coffs Harbour until June 14.
It was announced in mid-March it would reduce its domestic capacity by 50 per cent, however this was last week increased to 90 per cent.
Virgin will now only operate flights between major ports for essential services including supplies and logistics.
Locals are urged to halt any non-essential travel, which excludes travelling for work or for compassionate reasons.