Virgin Australia operates ATR 72-500s on new service

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Virgin Australia's first ATR 72-500 turboprop has started commercial flights on its new Brisbane-Gladstone service.

Perth-based Skywest Airlines is operating the new ATR services on behalf of Virgin as part of the two firms' strategic alliance.

Virgin has ordered four 72-500s, three of which have been delivered, and four 72-600s.

The inaugural Brisbane-Gladstone service comes after the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority approved the addition of the 72-500 to Skywest's air operators certificate (AOC), said the regional carrier said in a statement.

This means the ATR-500 can operate in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Port Macquarie and Gladstone, Skywest added.

Skywest has a fleet of Fokker 50, Fokker 100 and Airbus A320 aircraft.

On 19 October this year, Virgin will operate the ATRs on regional routes, including Brisbane-Port Macquarie and Sydney-Port Macquarie.

In addition, the carrier is planning to launch Sydney-Canberra and Brisbane-Emerald routes at a later date.