A NEW airline offering direct flights to and from Melbourne is set to take to the skies in Dubbo.
The airline, which wishes to remain unnamed until its official unveiling within the next month, aims to fly to Melbourne via Albury or Griffith, and if successful could well turn into direct flights from Dubbo to Melbourne.
The mayor of Dubbo, Mathew Dickerson, said the council had been in close discussion with a representative from the airline, and statistics indicated the airline would have about 23 definite passengers to Melbourne on its daily flights.
Cr Dickerson said the council had been trying hard to get an airline to serve another port in Australia other than Sydney, which was already served by Regional Express (REX) and QantasLink.
"It's clear the city of Dubbo has an advantage with our 132 flights a week to and from Sydney, but we have been trying to service our community by providing flights to other parts of Australia, and Melbourne was a popular choice," he said.
He said he had contacted Virgin Australia, REX and QantasLink for flights to other ports in Australia, with no such luck.
It was “out of the blue”, Cr Dickerson said, that another airline had contacted him and proposed a new route to Melbourne.
“After conducting a survey with passengers at Dubbo City Airport, we concluded that about 23 people fly to Melbourne every day, something the new airline was impressed with,” he said.
“I want to make it very clear there will be no undermining of REX and QantasLink, as they do such a good job with their flights to Sydney and Broken Hill... but 23 is a good number of people to support daily flights to Melbourne.
“If it’s a success, we will be looking at direct flights from Dubbo to Melbourne.”
A proposed Dubbo to Melbourne flight schedule saw a flight leaving Dubbo at 6.10am, stopping in Griffith at 6.40am, refueling for 20 minutes in time for departure to Melbourne at 7am, arriving at 7.40am, in total taking just over 90 minutes.
“If there is sufficient space on the jet, there is an opportunity for cargo to go on board as well... the progress is obviously a good thing but of course it can fall over.”
The proactive nature of the Dubbo community has helped move this along, and with Dubbo’s support, it could turn into a regular thing for the city.
“I’m very happy about it, we have been pushing for it for a long time and it really will be a great thing for Dubbo.”
Member for Dubbo Troy Grant commended the decision to bring in a new airline, and said regional air routes were vital services for connecting families that live apart from one another.
“The prospect of a third airline entering the market would improve competition for passengers and should provide a more cost effective service for regional customers,” he said.
He said the key to any air service was their ability to secure landing priority in the key airports that they serve.
Survey highlights demand for more variety
THE Dubbo Airport Terminal User Satisfaction Survey was released in June 2012, and was conducted by Aurora Research for Lindsay Mason, airport operations manager for Dubbo City Council.
About 300 people in the departure lounge were interviewed, with 35 per cent of people happy with the range of flights on offer, with 65 per cent after more variety.
The survey indicated the final destination of 69 per cent of passengers was Sydney, with eight per cent flying to Melbourne.
About 24 per cent of people wanted direct flights to Brisbane, and 14 per cent to Melbourne, indicating a stronger demand for Brisbane and making Melbourne the third most popular city of choice.
It also saw REX offer 82 flights per week to both Sydney and Broken Hill, compared to QantasLink which only offered 50 flights to and from Sydney.