Hope on high: New carriers to ease pain of Brindabella nightmare

COMMUNITIES hurting following the collapse of Brindabella have been offered a glimmer of hope after the NSW government yesterday revoked the airline’s exclusive licences to Narrabri and Moree.

The belated move paves the way for other operators to gain temporary access to the routes and begin serving stranded passengers.

Transport for NSW has given no firm indication of when air services will resume, saying only it would be “as soon as possible”.

Narrabri woman Steffi Lilliebridge has expressed her frustration at the failure to restore flights, saying the delays were doing irreparable damage to the community.

The 27-year-old’s mother, Catherine, suffered brain and shoulder injuries in a quad bike accident in March and requires specialist treatment in Sydney.

Miss Lilliebridge said the crisis had resulted in several missed appointments and she feared her mum would never recover if denied expert medical attention.

“She can’t move her arm and while we can’t get to Sydney, she can’t see the doctor, so nobody knows what treatment to give her,” she said.

“The physios won’t even touch her now until she sees the specialist and we can’t see the specialist.”

Miss Lilliebridge, whose mother farms wheat, cotton and cattle at Bellata, said the community also relied heavily on visiting medical professionals.

“I think it’s affected Narrabri a lot,” she said. “The amount of doctors that fly out here – they’re just not going to come.

“If they can’t fly out then they’re not going to drive out when their business is in Sydney, that’s for sure.”

Regional Express (Rex) pre-empted the decision yesterday by announcing it was seeking clearance from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to fly to Narrabri and Moree airports.

The airline must have permission from CASA before it is eligible to be granted any temporary licences.

“Rex has the capacity to provide a better service for Moree than had been provided to that community in the past,” Rex network strategy and sales general manager Warrick Lodge said.

A Qantas spokeswoman reiterated the company’s line that it was “ready, willing and able” – and had been all week – to operate a daily air service on the Moree to Sydney route – as soon as it received the all-clear. 

Transport for NSW also announced it would seek expressions of interest for longer-term aviation services.

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