THE head of a new airline set to link Griffith and Melbourne has given an “ironclad guarantee” the service will get off the ground, despite a fresh delay to flights.
Connect Jet, which plans to use Griffith as a stopover on a daily Dubbo to Melbourne leg, has been locked in a dispute with Dubbo City Council over its decision to impose security screening fees, despite the airline’s turbo propeller planes falling under the 20-tonne legal screening limit.
Dubbo council on Monday night ratified a policy to impose the screening charges, but offered a sweetheart deal to drop the airport useage fees for Connect Jet from $13.60 to $2.90 a passenger for the first 12 months.
A defiant Connect Jet CEO Earle Burrows said the fee break did not go far enough, vowing to continue negotiations with other regional airports.
“The Griffith-Melbourne route will not survive on its own and we need to get our business model right,” Mr Burrows said.
“Would Griffith people rather a delay to flights starting or us coming back in 12 months and scrapping the flights because we couldn’t make them work?
“We’re an airline, not a cake shop, and if we’re not making money, we’re not able to provide a service.
“I have given my commitment to the people of Griffith and I will honour that.”
He declined to give a firm date for the flights to commence.
It comes as Dubbo mayor Matthew Dickerson queried whether the airline even had CASA certification.
“Last time I checked he didn’t have CASA certification, but that was weeks ago,” Cr Dickerson said.
“I’m not concerned about the delays (to Connect Jet starting) but as a business they need to get themselves sorted out.
“It’s out of our control – we’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got everything in place.”
Mr Burrows confirmed the Connect Jet brand was not the aircraft operating certificate holder.
“Connect Jet does not have an aircraft operating certificate because it’s a brand name, just like the QantasLink brand name leases aircraft off other operators,” Mr Burrows said.
“We will be registered but in a different name.”