Australian budget carrier Virgin Blue will extend its network of business routes following the signing of a franchise deal with regional carrier Skywest.
Skywest, which currently serves commercial and mining destinations, will operate up to 18 Virgin Blue branded turbo-prop aircraft under a 10-year agreement. The airline said it would open up “a number” of new destinations in Australia for Virgin Blue.
The first flights by the new fleet, which will be financed by Virgin Blue, will begin by the end of the year. The deal allows frequent fliers to earn Velocity points on the Skywest-operated services.
Virgin Blue group chief executive John Borghetti said bringing propeller aircraft into the fleet would allow Virgin Blue to expand in areas it could not have previously considered.
“The partnership will see Virgin Blue expand its reach throughout regional Australia and will allow us to access untapped opportunities in regional Australian markets, in particular the booming fly-in fly-out resource sector market,” he said.