Working group on air links

Michael FerranteNorth West Telegraph
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A working group comprising members of the Pilbara’s local governments will be formed as a matter of priority to consider details of an aviation company’s proposal to introduce flights linking towns in the region.

Two representatives from Aviair, including former Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls, lobbied members of the Pilbara Regional Council at its meeting in Perth last Thursday.

They argued the company needed a commitment from member councils to back its plans for flight services linking towns including Port Hedland, Karratha, Onslow, Exmouth, Paraburdoo, Newman and Broome because it needed to plan flight crews and a base for its aircraft.

“We are trying to keep time frames (for approvals) compressed,” Mr Grylls said.

Aviair managing director Michael McConachy said the airline could have services running about two months after an investment decision was made. While the councils backed the company’s proposal in principle, they are seeking more detailed information from Aiviair on its business case. They said there were financial risks involved for councils and were not yet satisfied with the level of detail provided by the company, including forecast input and break-even costs, and demand.

Under terms of the proposed agreement, the PRC would contribute more than $1.5 million for the first two years, plus concessions for other fees and charges from airport operators.

PRC chairwoman Lynne Craigie said the council would aim for a working group meeting this week.

Aviair plans to use nine-seat passenger aircraft with tickets for the 200km journey between Port Hedland and Karratha costing on average $199.

It proposes to fly between Karratha and Port Hedland and Port Hedland to Broome twice weekly.

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