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VARA Ponders Fokker 100 Replacement

Geoffrey Thomas - : Mar 6, 2024 - : 6:15 pm

Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) is investigating replacing its Fokker 100 fleet with either the Embraer E190-E2 or Airbus A220-100.

In a memo to staff, VARA Executive GM Nathan Miller said: “We have narrowed down the potential replacement aircraft for our F100s to either the Embraer E190-E2 or Airbus A220-100. These are new-generation aircraft providing superior performance compared to the F100, lower fuel consumption and emissions through the employment of geared turbofan engines, enhanced customer product and improved operational performance.”

Mr Miller told staff that “in 2021, VARA undertook a review of various options to replace the F100s, which now have an average fleet unit age of 30 years. The outcome of the review identified the Boeing 737-700 as a suitable replacement option for the majority of the network, however, some airports we operate into are unable to accept the B737-700 due to aerodrome compatibility. To be able to continue to service our customers in these locations, we retained a small number of F100s.” 

“As VARA has grown, and gone from strength to strength, we have earned the right to consider whether there is a better solution for the remaining lines of flying which really require a 100-seat aircraft. The Western Australia charter market is the biggest charter market in Australia, with the most vigorous competition being in the 100-seat segment, so we need to ensure we can provide a great solution for our charter clients with this requirement.”  

Mr Miller said that the airline foresees an opportunity for at least four new aircraft based in Perth, commencing mid-2025.

“These aircraft will predominately operate charter activity, along with some RPT activity in shoulder periods where charter activity is low (Friday and weekends). If we go ahead with either of these aircraft, this will be the first time that the WA 100-seat charter market has had new aircraft, since the days of Ansett, which would be great for our business and great for our clients,” Mr Miller said.  

“Ultimately, our Board will make the decision on the business case for these aircraft, so it’s important that we can make a strong and clear case for the investment. An essential part of that process is ensuring we consult with all of our key stakeholders – that includes our VARA team members, customers, aircraft manufacturers, clients and unions. We will commence these discussions in the coming days, as we look to understand how we can provide ongoing opportunities for our people while remaining competitive within the 100-seat segment of the charter market,” Mr Miller said.


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