SCHEDULING will determine whether the next incarnation of the problematic Tamworth to Brisbane air route is a success or failure.
That is the view of two locals – Harvey World Travel’s Philip Lyne and mining subcontractor David Kennedy – with a stake in its progression.
The Leader’s revelation last Wednesday that Cairns-based airline Skytrans is in advanced discussions with the council has buoyed residents.
But historically the Tamworth to Brisbane route has been fraught with danger for carriers attempting to link northern NSW with south-east Queensland.
Brindabella Airlines, Sunshine Express, Impulse Airlines, Oxley Airlines and Eastern Australia Airlines are just some that have come and gone.
Mr Lyne said it was “exciting” an airline of Skytrans’ calibre had expressed a desire to operate the service, but warned the scheduling had to be right.
“In regional aviation, scheduling is crucial,” he said.
“We can’t have a schedule that’s going to be something like three times a day – that’s ridiculous.
“We need to have a schedule that the airline can grow the market into. Brindabella had the right schedule, but just had reliability issues wrapped around it.
“We don’t want the airline to run at a loss and continue to have an unstable environment on the Tamworth to Brisbane run, which has been apparent for the last decade.”
The collapse of Brindabella last month created havoc for Tamworth man David Kennedy, who is a fly-in, fly-out worker at a mine in Moranbah, about 1000km north of Brisbane.
His employer has graciously covered the cost of flying an extra leg to Sydney, but when that deal expires soon Mr Kennedy will be left to foot the bill.
He said mine workers, who made up a large component of overall patronage on the Brisbane service, considered scheduling – more so than price – as the key consideration.
“It would be a positive, depending on timetables,” he said.
“But there’s no point if they’re only running one service a day and I’m sitting in Brisbane Airport for six hours.
“It would be preferable for them just to pick up where Brindabella left off with two services a day – one in the morning and one in the evening.”
Skytrans managing director Simon Wild is expected to meet with Tamworth Regional Council soon to discuss details of the proposal, including potential schedules.