YET again it seems our metropolitan cousins are driving another nail into the coffin that is regional Australia.
News that the number of one of Tamworth’s most popular flights – an evening service to Sydney – will be slashed in half sent shock waves through the city and its leaders.
Mayor Col Murray blasted the decision to allocate Virgin just three evening slots at Sydney Airport as of October 30.
He fears it will hinder regional growth and leave commuters who travel to and from Tamworth high and dry.
And he’s got a fair point.
Tamworth is arguably one of the fastest-growing regional centres in NSW.
Cutting a valuable connection to our capital city disconnects us from the very place many of us work and travel to.
Sydney Airport claims it “supports our regional airline partners and recognises the importance of facilitating connectivity to regional communities across NSW through our extensive route network”.
Tamworth Regional Airport recorded a 14.6 per cent growth in passenger arrivals over the last year, with the total number of passengers expected to reach more than 200,000 this year.
That is just one airport of hundreds across the state that fly in and out Sydney, and it seems a fair presumption that demand is only going to increase.
Given Cr Murray declared “Tamworth has now joined other regional areas which have felt the brunt of a reduction in flight services because Sydney airport cannot accommodate the demand from passengers”, we are clearly not alone.
Something needs to be done to fix this problem.
A Sydney Airport spokesperson confirmed slots at the airport are managed by Airport Coordination Australia and that airlines determine the frequency of their services.
But couldn’t it still consider catering for these regional centres it claims to recognise the importance of?
Perhaps building an extra runway to cater for the rising demand might be a good start, but just who would bear the brunt of the cost, no one could begin to guess.
If Sydney Airport continues to axe more flights across the state, questions arise over what it will mean for ticket prices.
Flights to Sydney aren’t cheap as it is.
If prices do go up, will they still get bums on seats?