Western Qld towns could soon be just a flight away from Rocky
WINTON, Longreach and Moranbah could soon be just a short flight away, if Rockhampton Regional councillor Neil Fisher gets his way.
The chair of the council's airport committee this week travelled west as the Central Queensland Airports and Aerodrome Owners group put the finishing touches on a business case which could see the region linked to the east by air.
The group's proposal would see air services between Winton, Longreach and Rockhampton.
It's something Cr Fisher said would have "a whole range of advantages” for the region.
Winton, Barcaldine, Central Highlands and Rockhampton councils have worked on the project, which Cr Fisher is confident will have an impact.
"We've got a number of airlines very keen to look at our business case,” he said.
"I'm actually quite confident because of the interest from the airlines who want to get involved.
"Usually you've got to go out and sell the case, but to have them come to us early in the piece is a good indicator.”
Cr Fisher said an east-west link would be particularly beneficial to those travelling for medical reasons, as well as students attending boarding schools in Rockhampton.
A meeting with Longreach Regional Council and Longreach Airport is expected to be held today to further discuss the possibility of direct flights to Rockhampton.
Along with these services, regional carrier JetGo is looking to expand its Townsville to Gold Coast via Rockhampton service.
JetGo CEO Paul Bredereck said the company was in continued negotiation on running flights to Moranbah.
Although there is ongoing demand for the service, Mr Bredereck said Moranbah Airport operators BHP Billiton would not allow the flights to go ahead yet.
Mr Bredereck said it was "going to take time” to develop the potential service, with BHP approval the first hurdle to overcome.
"We think there's an opportunity there, but there's still a lot of work to do before we can turn that opportunity into a service.”
In the meantime, Mr Bredereck said the company would expand Townsville to Gold Coast services from April.
"We're just doing some final planning on that now,” he said.
The service will increase from three weekly flights to five before the company looks at how Moranbah can fit into the existing offering.