Australia's Jetstar to add 77 new weekly domestic flights

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Australia's Jetstar is to increase frequency on 11 domestic routes, adding 77 new weekly return services, and increasing the pressure on rivals Tiger Airways and Virgin Blue.

The increased frequencies mainly include more flights from Melbourne and Sydney to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Newcastle, and Tasmania, says the low cost unit of Qantas Airways.

It will start operating the additional flights between March and July 2010.

The biggest increases are on the Newcastle-Gold Coast and Sydney-Cairns routes, where frequencies are doubled to twice daily flights. Another big increase is on the Melbourne-Townsville route, which will be operated daily, up from three-times-weekly.

The higher frequencies are likely to increase pricing pressure on rivals Tiger Airways and Virgin Blue. Tiger operates a daily service on the Newcastle-Gold Coast route, while Virgin Blue offers three flights a week. On the Sydney-Cairns route, Virgin Blue operates 15 weekly services, and Qantas 25.

Jetstar will introduce an additional four A320 aircraft to offer the extra capacity, says the carrier.