Tigerair Australia’s Coffs Harbour routes will cease after April. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Tigerair Australia’s Coffs Harbour routes will cease after April. Picture: Shae Beplate.

Virgin Group responds to backlash over Tigerair flight cuts

VIRGIN Australia Group has responded to a petition signed by more than 4,000 Coffs Coast locals who have been left disappointed by the news Virgin’s low-cost carrier, Tigerair, will withdraw its services from Coffs Harbour Airport in less than two months time.

Former business owner Jacquie Houlden launched the change.org petition in a bid to show Virgin Group how “important” Tigerair’s direct flights between Melbourne has been for the region.

Tigerair’s Melbourne route is the only direct flight available from Coffs Harbour. Tigerair also currently has a Sydney and Coffs Harbour route, and this too will cease after April.

The last flight on the Melbourne route will be April 24.

“We regularly review our fleet and network plans to ensure they align with operational requirements, demand and market dynamics, including the more recent impact of the COVID-19 Coronavirus,” Virgin Australia Group spokesman, Kris Taute said.

“While passenger numbers on the Coffs Harbour to Melbourne route have been known to operate at capacity, the reality of operating a low-cost business like Tigerair Australia has meant we’ve had to further reduce the company’s cost base through simplifying its fleet and additional network changes.”

Mr Taute said these changes include the removal of Airbus A320 aircraft from Tigerair’s fleet, and the subsequent withdrawal from the Coffs to Melbourne flight which is “no longer commercially viable.”

“The North Coast of NSW remains an important part of our network, and we are committed to our daily Virgin Australia flights between Coffs Harbour and Sydney which continue to provide access to more than 45 destinations across Australia, as well as our international and partner airline network.”

Mr Taute added the Virgin Group is continuing discussions around the decision with Coffs Harbour City Council as well as Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey, who had mentioned the online petition in parliament last week.