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Toll secures deal on Virgin Blue freight

<p>The Toll Group, through its Toll Priority arm, has reached an in principle agreement with Virgin Blue Airlines and Express Blue Freight (trading as Virgin Blue Freight) to obtain for Toll Priority exclusive access to all freight capacity in Virgin Blue and Pacific Blue Aircraft.</p> <p>Under the deal, the existing freight agency agreement between Virgin Blue and Express Blue Freight is terminated.</p> <p>A period of due diligence and transition planning is expected to conclude before the end of August.</p> <p>As part of the arrangements, Toll Priority will make offers of employment to all permanent employees in the freight operation at its operational centres in Brisbane, Hobart, Launceston, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. </p> <p>Virgin Blue Freight general manager Max Irvine-Brown will remain with the company until the end of the year to help ensure a smooth transition of the business.</p> <p>The move came as Toll unveiled its domestic fully integrated airfreight strategy designed to better service users of air freight throughout the country.</p> <p>Toll Group managing director Paul Little said the group now had the capability to provide efficient and competitive air line-haul services to support the growth in the air express market, and expected the business to grow strongly.</p> <p>The launching of the new dedicated air fleet of three Boeing 737-300F and two ATR42, together with Toll’s present 50 charter aircraft, provided a key platform for freighter services.</p> <p>Federal transport minister Mark Vaile officially unveiled the planes at Brisbane airport yesterday before an audience of key government, business and industry dignitaries.</p> <p>Mr Little said the agreement with Virgin Blue enabled Toll to secure important belly space capacity and operational management throughout the Virgin Blue network, while providing Virgin Blue with a strong revenue stream anticipated to grow rapidly.</p> <p>"This is clearly a significant milestone for Toll, as it brings together the vital core components required to provide a seamless efficient airfreight network," Mr Little said.</p> <br />