1Qantas plane landing at Sunshine Coast Airport.photo Barry Leddicoat / Sunshine Coast Daily
1Qantas plane landing at Sunshine Coast Airport.photo Barry Leddicoat / Sunshine Coast Daily Barry Leddicoat

QANTAS decision devastates CQ community

QANTASLINK have taken a use it or lose it stance to their decision to stop flying the Biloela-Brisbane route.

The cancellation of the Banana Shire's most direct link to the capital city from Thangool Airport came as a shock to locals, who rely on the service for freight, personal and work travel.

A QantasLink spokesperson said the "tough decision” came after low passenger numbers on their Q300 aircraft made it an unviable route which often flew at less than half of its 50-seat capacity.

"We know that there will be some people in the community who will be disappointed by this news, however we just aren't seeing enough people book seats,” the spokesperson said.

"We've done as much as we can to make the route viable, including increasing to a double daily service on Mondays and Fridays so that people can get up and back in a day, as well as reducing fares to try to stimulate demand.”

But Callide Dawson Chamber of Commerce Incorporated president Genevive Gleeson said the "sudden cancellation” would impact on business in the Banana Shire region and have a flow on effect to the "lifestyle, liveability and future development”.

"The chamber is aware of the greater impact this will have on all businesses in our area in terms of freight delays. We have been approached by a number of our members for support in advocating for this vital service,” Ms Gleeson said.

"The chamber also understands that the withdrawal of such a major service also generates a further area for customers to leave Biloela and source products in major centres while catching their flights allowing them to shop there rather than supporting local business.”

QantasLink bookings for the Biloela to Brisbane route will cease from February 1, 2017 leaving customers with no other option but to drive to airports more than 100km away.
QantasLink bookings for the Biloela to Brisbane route will cease from February 1, 2017 leaving customers with no other option but to drive to airports more than 100km away. Qantas

From February 1, 2017 customers' alternatives are to fly from Gladstone, a 1.25 hour drive at 120km away, or Rockhampton, a 1.48 hour drive at 145km away.

Currently, QantasLink provides eight return services each week on the route, twice daily on Monday and Friday's and daily return every day except Saturday.

"We've found that many of our customers who live in the Biloela area choose to drive to Gladstone or Rockhampton and then fly to Brisbane from there, rather than get on a flight from Biloela.

"Customers who have a ticket booked on or after 1 February will be re-accommodated on flights from Gladstone, can get a credit note or receive a full refund.”

Mother and business owner shares her reaction to QantasLink cancellation

EVERY week Michelle and Grant Warry fly from Biloela to Brisbane with their son so he can receive medical treatment.

But news QantasLink would cancel the route from early next year has the small business owners worried about the impact on the town as well as their personal lives.

Mrs Warry said she would have to find an alternative freight service to maintain the speedy delivery of parts for the couple's Callide Valley Mower Service, purchased in July this year.

"I do understand they are a business too and they want to make money, I guess as a small community and the comments I have read on Facebook it's probably more disappointment in the way they have handled it and chosen to fully withdraw the service,” Mrs Warry said.

"At the moment our son is sick and is going through some treatment so we are flying in and out of Biloela on a weekly basis, so that service will stop pretty close to the end of our treatment which is fortunate, but for others that won't be the case. You just have to soldier on.”

'Without being too dramatic, I think it's quite a disastrous situation': Biloela businessman and resident Geoff Arnold has his say

RURAL FINANCES: Monto's Geoff Arnold is one accountant ready to help your cash flowPhoto George Smith / Central & North Burnett Times
RURAL FINANCES: Monto's Geoff Arnold is one accountant ready to help your cash flowPhoto George Smith / Central & North Burnett Times George Smith

Fellow Biloela resident, Power Financial director Geoff Arnold, echoed Mrs Warry's concerns.

He said with offices in Rockhampton, Biloela, Monto and Brisbane, the cancellation would soon become a logistical nightmare as staff fly in and out of Biloela weekly.

Mr Arnold said the company often book well in advance, but recently started to receive emails which advised their flights were cancelled, and no further bookings would be taken from January 20.

"It just makes the logistics of that extremely difficult when we have to look at alternatives out of Gladstone, it's extra cost pressures; accommodation, car hire, not to mention how difficult it is to manage people's time and the waste of time for the travel,” he said.

He said all levels of business would be impacted in terms of staff and freight.

"We are not the only ones, large businesses in town will be severely impacted, mines, the power station and the like, not to forget there are a number of small and medium business very much impacted with freight and movement of staff.

"Without being too dramatic, I think it's quite a disastrous situation for the (Banana) shire and the town, it's just not attractive for quality staff for people to come and live in the town,” Mr Arnold said.

"Tourists and family members can't just come and fly to the area. The moment people have to drive to Gladstone or Rocky they will have to stop elsewhere.”



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