Virgin Australia’s growing wet-lease and codeshare relationship with Alliance Airlines has been performing well for both carriers.
“Alliance really came on board in the first half of last year. The rollout in Queensland went extremely well,” says Virgin Australia group executive Rob Sharp.
That saw Alliance take over operations of Virgin’s routes from Brisbane to Mount Isa and Rockhampton, while it also launched its own services from Brisbane to Port Macquarie, Nundaberg, Moranbah, which are codeshared with Virgin.
In part, that was driven by Virgin's decision to remove the Embraer 190 jets from its fleet, and to reduce its fleet of ATR 72s.
The carrier is now set to use Alliance’s Fokker 100 and 70 jets to start a Brisbane-Alice Springs route from 19 June, which will operate twice-weekly. This has been made possible by Virgin taking back the operation of its Brisbane-Rockhampton route with Boeing 737-800s, freeing up Alliance aircraft to operate the new route.
Sharp says that the Alice Springs route will help to round out its network, and will be supported by passengers connecting from other destinations.
“There’s quite a bit of connecting traffic that comes over Brisbane," he adds.
Virgin’s regional unit, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines, was granted approval last year to enter into joint arrangements with Alliance on the fly-in, fly-out market. Sharp says the two carriers have started to submit joint bids for some charter contracts.