VIRGIN Australia and Qantas are vying for seats to Italy as they move to assure capacity to European destinations for codesharing flights.
Qantas recently applied to the International Air Services Commission (IASC) to renew a determination giving it 600 seats a week on services to Italy, the maximum currently available, but Virgin has lodged a counterclaim for half of that capacity.
A short letter from Virgin group executive government and international relations Jane McKeon said that the airline was seeking from the IASC the allocation of 300 seats per week to support the introduction of codeshare services on Singapore Airlines’ and Etihad Airways’ flights to Italy.
A Virgin spokeswoman said that a substantive submission backing the airline’s claim would be lodged soon.
She said that Virgin believed that splitting the capacity would bring healthy competition to the route which would benefit Australian travellers.
The spread of opens skies agreements or more generous capacity arrangements in bilateral air services agreements has meant that these kind of disputes were less common. The two airlines last vied for seats in 2010 on services to Indonesia.
Separately, Qantas today announced that it would launch eight return QantasLink flights a week, the equivalent to 1200 seats, between Sydney and Gladtsone in Queensland.
Qantas Domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi said that the new route would be serviced by a 74-seat Q400 aircraft and aimed to satisfy growing corporate demand for direct services between the destinations.
QantasLink also announced increased capacity to the NSW centres of Dubbo, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Albury.