TRIP REPORT – Gladstone to Brisbane – Tuesday 28 February – Virgin Australia Airlines (Skywest Airlines) – DJ1712 – ATR 72-500 – VH-FVM.
Shane T in Gladstone recently went for a ‘joyride’ on the Virgin Australia (Skywest Airlines-operated) ATR 72-500 service from Gladstone to Brisbane and back. He kindly shares some of his thoughts, as well as some lovely pictures from the flights and while spotting at Brisbane Airport!
First point to note is that Gladstone Airport has plenty of parking, so it was easy to find a park! Inside the relatively busy terminal, I was able to checkin and received my boarding pass. I was assigned seat 8A – on the left (port) side of the ATR.
Through the security check-point at Gladstone Airport – installed to coincide with the ATR services starting – and I proceeded towards Gate Three which is on the ‘lower’ of the two parking aprons at Gladstone Airport.
Soon after, ATR 72-500, VH-FVM, which is the newest ATR flown by Skywest Airlines for Virgin Australia – arrived from Brisbane. I noted that it was nearly full with 65 passengers disembarking at Gladstone.
The flight to Brisbane boarded and departed from Gladstone Airport on time at 8.05am. The ATR was about half-full, and I was seated (in 8A) directly under the wing, and adjacent to rear section of the engine on the left side of the plane.
Despite inclement weather departing Gladstone, the flight was relatively smooth. After departure, we climbed quickly, and soon we were established on our cruise above all the clouds.
Light snacks were served, of which I didn’t take one, having had breakfast from a local drive thru!
Descent was smooth and uneventful, and minutes before landing in Brisbane, I noticed that the trailing-edge of the wings were extended to the full 30 degrees - as shown below!
The flight arrived at Brisbane about 10 minutes early at 9.15am – we had made good time!
Time now to negotiate the very narrow stairs - a lot harder to get off then get on! Walk across the tarmac and into the Brisbane Domestic Terminal - albeit downstairs!
After about a 45 minute turn-around in Brisbane, VH-FVM departed southbound from Brisbane to Port Macquarie (as VOZ1766) with about 30 passengers on-board. It did not return to Brisbane for the rest of the day.
While spending the better part of the day planespotting in Brisbane - I noticed Virgin maintains a busy schedule for the ATR's servicing the Gladstone, Rockhampton, Emerald and Port Macquarie routes out of Brisbane. The aircraft spend little time on the ground before getting airborne again. Good to see the aircraft are busy and taking a productive roll within the fleet of Virgin Australia.
Also at Brisbane, I noticed the two all-white Fokker F-100 aircraft that Virgin Australia is utilising on the Brisbane to Cairns, Rockhampton, Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast, and Newcastle (Williamtown) sectors. I managed a shot of VH-XWN parked at the Virgin terminal, and noted the other, VH-XWM, also flying during the day.
If the rumours are correct, I am looking forward to seeing a Fokker F-100 in Virgin colours. I think that they will look good. It’s also good to see plenty of Fokkers flying all over the Australian skies these days. I like the F-100 because i like rear-engined jets like the old DC9's and MD80's (aka Boeing 717). Favourite plane of all time definitely remains the 727.
TRIP REPORT – Gladstone to Brisbane – Tuesday 28 February – Virgin Australia Airlines (Skywest Airlines) – DJ1715 – ATR 72-500 – VH-FVH.
After enjoying a good day of planespotting at one of Australia's busiest airports, it was time for my return flight to Gladstone on VOZ1715. I went downstairs to the Virgin check-in area, and was able to pretty much get my boarding pass straight away.
After studying the configuration of the plane during the flight from Gladstone, I requested seat 6A which would put me closer to the propellers - a favourite view of mine. Fortunately, the seat was available and so was ready to board for the journey home!
I went back upstairs through security at Brisbane Airport, and approached the gate area (Gate 50) and noted that the oldest ATR flying in the fleet – in the form of VH-FVH – was to take me home.
Boarding commenced, and this return flight to Gladstone was at full capacity, with only a single empty seat. It’s great to see Virgin is achieving good load factors on the Gladstone route and one hopes it means the airline will maintain services to the Central Queensland port for the long term. Competition on Central Queensland sectors can only be a good thing for the travelling public.
Like the morning flight to Brisbane, we departed to Gladstone on time at 3.50pm. In fact I noted most of the Virgin ATR flights to and from Brisbane throughout the day were running on time or close to schedule – it was a good day!
After a fairly uneventful flight North – including another snack service - we landed back at Gladstone Airport on time at 5.10pm.
Overall, my impressions of the ATR are most positive. I found the aircraft to be quiet inside, and relatively comfortable with ample legroom on the inside - comparable to the Q400. I did note however, that the steep stairs that passengers get on and get off at the rear of the plane, do require caution, particularly when exiting the plane. I would most certainly fly in the ATR again!