On Sunday 16 July, the final Virgin Australia ATR 72-operated flights called into both Gladstone and Bundy – ATR 72-500 VH-FVL was noted operating the final VOZ1701/1702 rotation from Brisbane to Bundaberg Airport and back, while ATR 72-500 VH-FVU was noted operating the final service into Gladstone Airport as VOZ1713/1718 from and back to Brisbane. These would be the final flights, and the final time, the Virgin Australia aircraft will be sighted at both ports.
|ATR 72 VH-FVU also operated the final Virgin Australia flight out of Rockhampton Airport (File photo)|
Then early on Monday 17 July, Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 jet VH-NKU touched down at Gladstone Airport as VOZ2901 marking the beginning of Alliance operating Virgin Australia flights into (now) most CQ destinations. Ceremonies took place at both Brisbane and Gladstone Airports marking the occasion. Soon enough, VH-NKU was turned around and departed Gladstone Airport back to Brisbane as VOZ2900.
|VH-NKU is prepared for departure from Brisbane Airport|
|Celebrations at Gladstone Airport|
|VH-NKU is welcomed to Gladstone Airport|
VH-NKU then operated two further rotations into the Port City during Monday.
Down at Bundaberg Airport in the early afternoon, fellow Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 jet VH-QQY touched down a little behind schedule also from Brisbane but as VOZ2973. Again ceremonies were held in Brisbane and at Bundaberg. VH-QQY was turned around and soon after it departed back to Brisbane as VOZ2972.
|VH-QQY is prepared for departure from Brisbane to Bundaberg Airport|
|Celebrations at Bundaberg Airport|
Of interest, the third Brisbane-based route that was replaced by Alliance Airlines on Monday 17 July was to Port Macquarie in New South Wales. Prior to it coming to Bundaberg, VH-QQY had flown the first service from Brisbane to Port Macquarie and back as UTY2981/2980 – perhaps its arrival into Bundaberg was delayed by the ceremonies that were yet again held at Brisbane and this time In Port Macquarie to mark the occasion.
|VH-QQY at Port Macquarie|
Finally, it should be noted that despite reports suggesting otherwise, scheduled Virgin Australia services from Brisbane into Moranbah Airport continue to be operated by ATR 72 turboprops. It is unclear why this run didn’t change over, however it could due to Alliance have insufficient aircraft to fill the need. Any further clarification would be appreciated!
Sincere thanks to the team at Alliance Airlines for allow us to share some of their many images from a great first day of operations into Central Queensland. Check out many more on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AllianceAirlines/