Editorial | International freight hub could remain pipe dream if don't deliver reliable air travel

TAMWORTH’S civic leader has long held a pipe dream to transform Tamworth airport into an international freight hub. 

The project has since had the backing of local producers, which could cement the country music capital as one of the nation’s strongest regional economic hubs.

It’d be a huge coup for the entire region. It would mean jobs and growth – two things our leaders love to spruik.

But when our everyday passenger flights are being cancelled almost weekly, it doesn’t send the best message that we’re ready to host international freight. 

If we can’t deliver on the simple things, are we really capable of something bigger?

It comes as the latest figures reveal almost 50 Sydney-bound flights from Tamworth and Armidale were cancelled in the last three months of 2017. 

It’s left passengers high and dry, made business people miss important meetings and forced holidaymakers to make alternate plans. 

People living in the bush rely on air service more than city folk would. 

You’ll often hear politicians, business people and councillors talk about how important air travel is.

A single delayed or cancelled flight can destroy a whole day of business in the city. People can miss long-awaited medical specialist appointments.

The whole point of flying is to make a journey quicker. 

That’s unfortunately not been the case for too long for Tamworth residents. 

Understandably there are forces beyond our control that can cancel flights, be it weather, mechanics or maintenance. 

But it’s happening far too often. 

Fifty flights mightn’t sound like a lot, but it is for those who have made plans around that. 

While it’s not just an issue for us in Tamworth, with other regional places all affected to some degree, it’s a problem that needs addressing – especially with the city set to grow.

If Tamworth matches the national population growth of 1.5 per cent per year, we will be a city of around 218,000 by 2117 – or roughly four times the size it is now.

If we’re going to continue to grow, we need to attract bigger business.

And one thing they’ll look for is air travel. 

We need to make sure the infrastructure – including regular and reliable air travel – is in place to cater for our growing population. 

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