Bundy's airline hopes in limbo
DESPITE spending $40 million on an airport upgrade and a further $300,000 on consultants, Bundaberg Regional Council has not yet attracted a second domestic carrier to the region.
Virgin Blue confirmed it had entered into discussions with council through consultants Aspirion, but a spokesperson said the company had no immediate plans to begin operating from Bundaberg Airport.
Jetstar has ruled out opening a Bundaberg service, while competitor Tiger refused to confirm or deny whether it had entered into discussions with council, saying it was “always looking for the best opportunities to expand”.
Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch declined to reveal which carriers Aspirion had entered into discussions with, but hoped negotiations would improve as airline carriers emerged from stormy economic conditions.
With passenger numbers at Bundaberg airport at an all-time high, Cr Pyefinch said carriers had expressed interest but were hesitant to commit.
“The carriers are very interested in Bundaberg as a market but it has proven to be a very difficult time due to the global financial crisis,” she said.
“I don't think we could have picked a worse time, to be honest.”
The Bundaberg Regional Airport has hit the 11,000 mark in July – with a total of 11,145 passengers, a 5% increase on last year.
It was the fourth month in a row in which numbers topped 10,000.
Cr Pyefinch said support for an additional service was well documented in surveys, and she hoped residents would voice their interest to carriers.
“The community has told us in no uncertain terms they want a greater variety of routes and we believe we can liaise with another airline to deliver this outcome,” she said.
“I would encourage people who want to see new flight opportunities to send a strong message to carriers. The more groundswell support from the community we can get the better.”