THE long-haul fight to secure regular and reliable flights in and out of Tamworth still remains grounded.
For months, commuters, business people and civic leaders have called out airlines and Sydney Airport over its regional allocation slots, both of which are behind the relentless flight disruptions in the bush.
Countless flights have been delayed, rescheduled and even cancelled.
It’s left locals stranded at either end, and turned people away from visiting the regional centre.
Businesses are being deterred from coming to the city, and tourists are thumbing their nose at the idea of a visit.
And it’s all because when they book a flight to Tamworth, they’ve come to learn they may not get there when they want.
And it’s not good enough.
Tamworth is a regional centre. Outlying towns use the Tamworth airport to get to places quickly.
Not only do we cost the city business when flights are grounded, but the entire region misses out.
Tamworth councillor Juanita Wilson told The Leader she knew of at least one local company that refused to hold a conference in the city after a poor experience with delays.
She noted unreliable flights were costing locals money and making them miss important appointments.
But it’s so much more than an economic and tourist thing.
Medical cannabis crusader Lucy Haslam had to reschedule a high-profile meeting with NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian not once but twice last week – and it was all because of flight delays in and out of Tamworth.
What will it take before the decision-makers take up the call to fix the problem?
When we book a flight, we have the right to expect we will get to where we want to, when we want to.
Sure, Mother Nature can have other plans and we can deal with the occasion delay or cancellation.
But when it’s been an ongoing issue for the past six months – costing locals money, driving business from the region and forcing residents to miss appointments – something needs to be done.
Tamworth Airport is busier than ever. Every month, more than 16,000 people pass through the gates.
Surely that warrants some immediate answers.