Source: The Mercury, 3 April, 2001, p.??
By ANNE BARBELIUK TASMANIA welcomed a new era of cut-price air travel yesterday as Impulse Airline's inaugural flight touched down in Hobart. The new service is the most successful the airline has launched- with all of this week's flights close to capacity. In the discount carrier's first day of operation in Tasmania there were four flights to and from Melbourne, some travellers flying for as little as $40 one way. Premier Jim Bacon greeted Impulse executive chairman Gerry McGowan as he disembarked from the airline's first inbound flight which arrived, on schedule, at 10.10am. "This is a longawaited day," Mr Bacon said. He said Impulse's arrival had already led to a boost of confidence in the state tourism sector, with estimates the industry would grow by up to 15 per cent over the next year as a result of the third carrier. Mr McGowan said the airline had been thrilled with the response to the new service, with the Hobart- Melbourne route the most popular it had launched. Passenger loadings on all of yesterday's flights were more than 75 per cent, with a couple full. No other Impulse route has been met with such high demand. "We are very pleased to be here. The response we have had has been overwhelming," Mr McGowan said. One of the passengers who arrived on the first flight, Anna Guerra, from Melbourne, said she was delighted with the service and not bothered by the fact the no- frills carrier did not provide meals. "It's too short a trip for food," said Ms Guerra, who had paid $272 return. The first super-discount $40 Melbourne fares were on the offpeak 10.40am flight out of Hobart. Only two passengers on that service flew for $40. Mr Bacon said $115 million worth of tourism infrastructure was under construction across the state, partly because of the Impulse- driven boost to tourism. Mr McGowan said Impulse could sustain the cheap fares, even if another budget carrier entered the market.
Discount carrier Virgin Blue has shown interest in flying to Tasmania. Virgin Blue spokeswoman Amanda Bolger said there was still scope for Tasmania to be scheduled into the airline's flight path. "Tasmania is definitely an area we are very interested in," Ms Bolger said. She said the carrier would expand its route later this year after it bought more aircraft. Impulse's launch in the state has generated 33 Hobart-based jobs and more will be created if the carrier goes to Launceston. Mr McGowan yesterday reaffirmed that Impulse would complete a feasibility study by September into the prospects of operating at Launceston. "It is Impulse's intention to seek to further expand its presence and overall number of flight services into and out of Tasmania over time, subject to their commercial viability," he said. Impulse's discount fares-purchased on a use-it-or- lose-it basis - to Melbourne start at $40 one way, then jump to $72, $99 and $139. The fully flexible fare is $172. Kendell joined the price war last week when it offered a $39.60 Hobart-Melbourne deal one way and a $77 passage to Sydney, matching Impulse's cheapest deal for the same route.
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