V Australia Quits Phuket As Pacific Blue Stays On
Virgin Blue's V Australia carrier will cease operating direct flights to Phuket as of February 2011. The airline cited losses from the service and the company CEO John Borghetti has been quoted "the Phuket service is also sub-optimal for our Boeing 777-300 ER given our configuration."
thephuketinsider yesterday contacted V Australia's head office who issued the following statement "I can confirm that as of February 2011 V Australia will terminate its services to Phuket. The planes will be deployed to offer long haul flights between Australia and Abu Dhabi."
V Australia currently offers service between Phuket to Melbourne and Brisbane. Subsidiary Pacific Blue has 3 weekly flights between Perth and Phuket using a smaller Boeing 737.
Typical seat configuration on V Australia's Boeing 777-300 are 40 seats in business class, 35 premium economy, and 288 economy for a total 363 passengers. Compared to regional carriers such as Pacific Blue's Boeing 737-800 with a capacity of 192 passengers with 180 economy seats and 12 in premium class.
Industry analysts are keen to point to a trend for regional destinations to look at greater frequency of flights, smaller aircraft and utilizing a variety to hubs as a superior economic model to larger long haul aircraft.
In the case of V Australia's service, it's more likely a mismatch between their core Boeing 777 aircraft needing to fill more seats then lack of sustainable demand which would optimally use smaller Airbus or Boeing 737 planes.
At the same time we are aware of reports that Thai Airways International is intending to commence direct Melbourne to Phuket service three times a week starting in March 2011, and then fly on to Bangkok using a Boeing 777. According to local sources an announcement will be made public soon on this development.