THE collapse of debt-ridden Brindabella Airlines has seen many local customers scrambling to save their Christmas and New Year plans from ruin.
All bookings on the struggling airline were cancelled when the airline was placed in the hands of receivers KordaMentha over the weekend.
People due to spend the holiday period with their loved ones now face the unpalatable option of either driving or buying costly last-minute tickets with other airlines.
For the past three years, Tamworth man David Kennedy has been a fly-in, fly-out mine worker, reliant on Brindabella’s Brisbane service.
He was due to fly in to Tamworth on Friday but now must choose between a 600km drive or an inflated pre-Christmas seat on QantasLink from Sydney.
Mr Kennedy said if no airline stepped forward and took up the Brisbane route, he would have to consider moving his family out of Tamworth.
“I definitely will,” he said.
“By the time I left Tamworth and got off the link flight up here, it’s about four or four-and-a-half hours.
“But if I have to go through Sydney, then I lose a whole day going up and a whole day coming back.”
Gunnedah woman Allison Crumbley was booked to make a flying visit to Brisbane to be with her boyfriend and his family for New Year’s Eve celebrations.
But with the 28-year-old facing the prospect of having a chunk of her two days off work eaten up by the long drive, she is now reconsidering her plans.
“I want to know if I will get a refund,” she said.
“Those flights were $400. I’m at the point now where I’ve got to really think about driving all that way just for one day now the flights are cancelled.”
Yesterday Brindabella’s 140 employees were temporarily stood down, with receivers saying the company owed millions of dollars to creditors.
Transport for NSW has announced more buses would be put on to transport stranded passengers in Narrabri and Moree.
But NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell admitted it would be “little comfort to those people who have booked and paid for airfares and may have a need to get to Sydney a bit quicker than a coach will do”.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said the council had been engaged in discussions with “a number of airlines” over several weeks in a bid to lure a replacement for the Brisbane flights.