MORE flights, larger aircraft and a $400,000 Qantas Club lounge for Tamworth Regional Airport was the good news delivered to Tamworth and Armidale yesterday by QantasLink.
The airline’s executive officer John Gissing flew in to Tamworth yesterday with the good news announcing QantasLink will run eight extra services a week from the city with an additional early- morning and afternoon service during peak times.
Mr Gissing, who described Tamworth as the home of the airline, said the additional flights would come on line in April.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said it was great to have a strong company like Qantas having such confidence in the region.
“We are happy to have the opportunity to work with QantasLink for our community and the region’s communities,” Cr Murray said.
Mr Gissing said QantasLink acknowledged its customers wanted greater choice.
“We recognise the great work Tamworth and the district is doing to improve and to grow,” he said.
“The changes are a clear indication of the confidence we have in NSW’s regional business and leisure tourism market. As well as benefiting local businesses and tourism operators, improved capacity and scheduling will give the local community more seamless and accessible travel opportunities.”
There will be an extra eight flights per week between Tamworth and Sydney, increasing capacity from 3800 seats to 4400 per week.
New early-morning and afternoon services to and from Tamworth will give customers travelling in peak periods greater choice.
He said this was a way of supporting Tamworth and the region and responding to the future.
“QantasLink always wants to be one step ahead,” he said.
“This is a clear indication of the confidence we have in Tamworth regional business and leisure visitors.”
Armidale will have all flights operating on the larger Dash 8 Q300 aircraft, increasing seats between Armidale and Sydney from 2900 to 3100 per week.
Schedule changes in the morning and afternoon will also provide a greater spread of flight options throughout the day.
Dubbo also gets eight extra flights to and from Sydney and a Q400 aircraft and Dash 8 Q200 will help service the additional capacity.
Flights between Coffs Harbour and Sydney will increase from 66 to 70 flights per week with an extra early-morning weekday flight.
Qantas Club members will also benefit from the Qantas lounge at Tamworth Regional Airport, located in a separate room in the departure lounge.
“We want to give Tamworth customers a premium QantasLink experience, with the lounge modelled on the Qantas Club,” Mr Gissing said.
The lounge will include complimentary light refreshments and beverages, wireless internet, Foxtel and comfortable seating.
Cr Murray said the Tamworth Regional Airport was quite often the first glimpse visitors had of the city, and it gave a strong first impression.
“We’ve got Qantas’ support with the number of flights and increase in flights and the Qantas lounge is a strong statement as to the status of our city,” he said.
Cr Murray said people often went to Sydney for medical services and business, so the number of flights and the timing of flights was important.
“People can access services and still sleep in their own beds at night,” he said.
“We can take a lot of comfort in this confidence in us by Qantas.”
Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay, who was present for the announcement, said this was a vote of confidence from Qantas in the region.
“It’s important that Sydney is accessible to us to support growth in the region,” he said.
QantasLink employs about 100 people in Tamworth across engineering, finance, customer service and ground operations.