LOCAL councils are working feverishly in an attempt to minimise the damage to communities after the grounding of yet more Brindabella planes.
The stricken airline was last night due to comply with an order from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to remove six aircraft from service amid safety concerns.
The directive leaves Brindabella – understood to be deeply in debt – fighting for survival with just two of its 10-strong fleet remaining operational.
Moree and Narrabri rely entirely on Brindabella and the communities now face the real prospect of being left stranded without any air services.
The groundings also cast doubts over the future of the popular Tamworth to Brisbane route as the airline faces the difficult task of choosing where to deploy its remaining planes.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce told The Leader yesterday that he had spoken to Qantas about whether it would be prepared to take on the leg should it become vacant.
“I’ve already had discussions with Qantas about this and I’ve had discussions not directly, but indirectly, with Brindabella,” he said.
“They obviously have some serious issues in Qantas and I said that, whilst we’re talking about your issues, I want to talk about one of mine. We must make sure that this Tamworth to Brisbane route remains in play. It is vitally important to the city of Tamworth.”
In a statement released yesterday morning, Brindabella admitted the removal of its planes from service would “undoubtedly result in some disruption within our network”.
The airline said it hoped the issues would be resolved “very shortly” and claimed flights scheduled “during the course of this weekend have not been affected”.
However, Transport for NSW has announced extra TrainLink coach services will run over the weekend to ferry passengers in Moree and Narrabri to the Tamworth airport.
“We have expressed significant disappointment with Brindabella’s recent performance, which has included late and cancelled flights,” a spokesman said.
“Our key priority now is making sure the communities of Cobar, Moree, Mudgee and Narrabri have access to services running to and from Sydney and other major regional airports ahead of the holiday season.”
Moree councillors yesterday met with Transport for NSW deputy director general Tim Reardon and Barwon MP Kevin Humphries to discuss how to proceed.
The council’s general manager, David Aber, said he had told Brindabella it would accept a reduction from three to two services a day for a period of three months.
“We don’t want the airline service to go belly-up,” he said.
“But what we’re doing is putting contingency plans in place to ensure there is minimal disruption into and out of the area.”