Plans for more flights takes off

THE choice of airline and flights from Bundaberg Airport could “take off” next year, with the council commissioning consulting specialists to start talks with various airlines.

Aviation consulting specialists Aspirion was granted $20,080 by Bundaberg Regional Council to engage airlines in discussions and negotiations in an effort to attract extra air services to the region.

“We’re talking to a range of airlines about additional flights to Brisbane,” Bundaberg Regional Council manager of economic development Naomi Searle said.

“The work that Aspirion has undertaken, the opportunity profile and business analysis, has shown the best route for any airline from here would be to Sydney and Brisbane.”

Ms Searle said there was a “large demand to access the Sydney market” but that ultimately the decision was up to the airlines.

With the completion of the airport upgrade on track for later this month, Ms Searle said indications on how the talks were faring would probably not be known until next year.

“The airlines will not commit until everything is in place,” she said.

“But we’ve weathered the global financial crisis quite well, and our diverse industry base has certainly helped that.”

Ms Searle said there was “huge potential” in what the future could bring through the negotiations.

Ron Bishop, Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce president and senior lecturer of Aviation Technology at CQUniversity agrees, saying he believes the opportunity will be beneficial for the people of Bundaberg.

“This is the next step in the evolution of Bundaberg,” he said.

“This is a really hot issue for most people here, so whatever airline comes to Bundy will be good.”

Mr Bishop said it would not only be convenient for current and prospective flyers, but it would boost the city’s tourism industry and bring down prices.

“I think council’s done a great job in giving us more options in tourism,” he said.

“People in Bundaberg are going to go for the cheapest price — I know I would — and the average traveller will save hundreds (of dollars).”

Mr Bishop said local competition was bound to bring prices down, since Qantaslink’s Brisbane market currently only competed with driving and a trip on the tilt train.

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