CASA calls for an explanation

Brindabella CONCERNS

EMBATTLED airline Brindabella has been formally asked to provide a full explanation about why it is failing to meet the terms of its operating licence.

Transport for NSW, which last year controversially awarded Brindabella a five-year licence to operate flights between Moree and Sydney, made the request last week.

The explanatory order means Brindabella must detail exactly what went wrong and provide the department with a comprehensive plan for remedying the situation.

The airline has struggled to meet its commitments since the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) grounded four planes last month amid safety concerns.

Two of the aircraft have subsequently returned to service, while the remaining two could be cleared to fly later in the week, if they pass on-ground engine checks.

“Transport for NSW has recently spoken with Brindabella and has formally requested Brindabella address its concerns surrounding the provision of air services as outlined in its air licence,” a spokesman for the department said.

The department also revealed it had rapped Brindabella over the knuckles for its failure to keep both customers and the wider community abreast of changes to its schedule.

“Transport for NSW has also reminded the airline of the importance of communicating effectively – not only with its customers, but also with the communities it operates in,” the spokesman said.

The news comes as CASA spokesman Peter Gibson confirmed an investigation would be launched into why Brindabella failed to meet its maintenance schedule.

“We always said right throughout this that once we’ve dealt with these immediate issues that as part of our normal business we’ll take a look at what factors within Brindabella’s operations need to be examined to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

“If anyone misses an inspection or runs over on an inspection or does something outside of what they’re supposed to have done, then naturally you don’t just leave it at that, you look for the underlying causes and that’s what we always do and we’ll take the appropriate action after that.”

The frequent delays and cancellations on Brindabella’s Moree and Narrabri routes have left many passengers swearing off the airline for good and mining giant Whitehaven Coal, which has extensive interests in the Narrabri area, admitted it was monitoring the 

situation closely.

Although 80 per cent of the company’s Narrabri workforce are drawn from the local community, it still relies on some fly-in, fly-out labour.

“As a company with a significant investment in the area, we are committed to working with all stakeholders to keep the Narrabri community connected to nearby centres through regular, dependable flight services,” a spokesman said.

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