GRIFFITH City Council will go back to the drawing board to lock in an airline for the much-anticipated Melbourne route, after promises by proposed carrier Connect Jet fell through once again.
The search for an airline that will re-connect Griffith and Melbourne will recommence after Mayor John Dal Broi sought endorsement at Tuesday night’s council meeting to “cast the net again”.
Councillors agreed management should begin to seek other avenues to secure an airline willing to re-establish the route, which was dropped by Regional Express (Rex) last year.
Proposed new airline Connect Jet has delayed take-off numerous times, with the last announcement from spokesman Earle Burrows claiming flights would be available in early September.
Mr Burrows claimed issues with Dubbo Council, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Griffith City Council were responsible for the delays, but Cr Dal Broi is “fed up” with the excuses.
Council’s stoush with Mr Burrows came to a head when Cr Dal Broi initiated inquiries with CASA – following the lead of Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson – to determine whether the airline was certified.
Cr Dal Broi found no record of Connect Jet, which Mr Burrows said was because his company was registered under a different name.
Cr Dal Broi said he had been approached by Brindabella Airlines some months ago but had held out hope Connect Jet would commence take-off.
Now, he said, negotiations will recommence.
“We’ll also put out ads in the major newspapers calling for expressions of interest,” Cr Dal Broi said.
“I and the other councillors get asked a lot when the flights are starting - it’s important to people.”
While he understood a daily direct route between Griffith and Melbourne may not be viable, Cr Dal Broi was willing to consider routes via Dubbo, Albury or Wagga and cut back to possibly three services per week.
The Griffith Business Chamber has campaigned heavily to secure the flights and president Pat Pittavino said council’s decision to seek other expressions of interest was a wise move.
“We definitely need the flights - my own business can’t get people to come here because there are no flights from Melbourne, we’ve been disadvantaged greatly,” Mr Pittavino said.
“We’ve been very patient with Earle and we’re not going to lock the door on him but we have a community here that needs these flights.
“I think if anyone can get an airline to come here it will be John Dal Broi and if chamber can do anything to help, we will.”
Mr Burrows refused to comment on the status of the flights.