Alliance Airlines: We're in it for the long haul
ALLIANCE Airlines' entire senior management team has met in Gladstone this week to address key strategies as the company moves forward.
But for now, CEO Lee Schofield says the local priority is establishing reliable flights connecting the city to Brisbane.
"Alternative operators have come and not lasted," Mr Schofield said yesterday.
"The honeymoon is now over and our priority is to make this sustainable.
"It's important our senior management understands what we are doing here.
"Gladstone is an important regional centre and needs competition in the market."
Alliance Airlines operates 17 flights a week to Brisbane in the 80-seat Fokker 70, which has reduced flight times by 20-25 minutes.
Mr Schofield said one of the advantages of being a smaller airline was the ability to make early decisions to use a 100-seat Fokker 100 if peak flights were heavily booked.
The Sydney flight remains the holy grail for Gladstone passengers and Alliance plans to look at this and other alternative routes once the Brisbane flights are proven.
"Flights north are on the wish list as well, but we can't commit at this stage," Mr Schofield said.
"But where there is peak demand or major events, we can operate one-off flights."
"That's not easy for the larger airlines to manage, but charter flights are in our DNA. It's our core business."
He cited the upcoming Local Government Association of Qld conference being held in Gladstone in October as one example where extra flights would operate into the city.
And if there was to be a State of Origin match in Townsville, Gladstone fans could well find themselves with a direct flight to the match.
Alliance Airlines entered the Gladstone market in July when Virgin Airlines decided not to continue.
A partnership between the two airlines was already in place so Alliance took over the route.
Passengers still book through Virgin Airlines and have access to Virgin's member benefits, including Velocity Points and airport lounges.
The company owns 29 aircraft with another three being added to the fleet this year.
"The honeymoon period has been great, but now comes the hard work in order to maintain the support we need," Mr Schofield said.