GRIFFITH'S mayor has let fly at a proposed new airline for the city, saying council was so frustrated with the delay to Melbourne flights it had launched a search for a new carrier.
In a shock development, John Dal Broi yesterday cast into serious doubt whether the yet-to-be-named airline would even take off, revealing council had received a letter from another carrier expressing an interest in operating a slimline plane between Griffith and Melbourne.
It comes after a breakdown in negotiations between council and the man behind the mystery airline, which first promised to have Melbourne flights operating by late last year.
"We are halfway through February and this was the timeframe he gave council and the community that the airline would be operating," Cr Dal Broi said.
"The airline is not up and, at this stage, it doesn't look like it will be up for quite a while.
"Myself, councillors and staff members are getting continued requests from the community about when the flights will be starting.
"Council has done everything required to facilitate the airline and have not heard from them in more than six weeks.
"My intention is to start talking to other airline companies and providers that would be interested in starting a service between Griffith and Melbourne."
The airline spokesman strongly rejected claims he had "gone cold" on servicing Griffith, putting the blame for the delays squarely on council.
"On three occasions, council gave us dates for completion of the tarmac work and they let us down each time," he said.
"That delayed our progress and to make things worse, when council finally told us it was ready, the asphalt hadn't even been ordered.
"After the completion, the only way we were notified was through the media - council didn't let us know for another fortnight. We've been misled all the way along."
He said he would fly in to Griffith next week for crisis talks with council.
Since Rex abandoned the Griffith-Melbourne route in July last year, the community has been waiting anxiously for a replacement service for business, personal and medical travel.
Cr Dal Broi said it was "ridiculous" to expect visiting businesspeople to travel to Griffith via Sydney.
"Three of our wineries have affiliations in Melbourne and the lack of a direct service is making it unneccesarily difficult for them," Cr Dal Broi said.
"We had a senior executive from Jeep Australia come here last week to visit one of the car dealerships and he was quite strong on how ludicrous it was to travel from Melbourne to Sydney to Griffith.
"It's not just about business though - people want to see a game of football or attend a medical appointment in Melbourne and they should be able to fly there."