Almost ready for take-off

FLIGHTS between Griffith and Melbourne could take-off as early as next month if the safety regulator gives a Tasmanian airline the all-clear.

Mayor John Dal Broi said the company was confident of final confirmation from the federal Civil Aviation Safety Authority to begin flights in March.

Following the stalling of year-long negotiations with Connect Jet in October last year, Cr Dal Broi met with the Tasmanian carrier in December and talks have been ongoing.

The latest correspondence with the mayor mentioned a start date in March, prompting council to consider potential subsidies to ensure high patronage and reasonable fares.

"As soon as they get all their approvals in place, we'll release the company's name and council will give them all the assistance we can," Cr Dal Broi said.

"Our main objective is to make sure the service is utilised, so we may look into some form of subsidy to the landing fees for a period of time, perhaps for six to 12 months.”

Cr Dal Broi was also awaiting details about the $3.5 million promised by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services Warren Truss at the opening of Griffith’s refurbished terminal in December.

Mr Truss announced the scheme’s intention was to aid regional commercial airline carriers to support low volume and new routes to small and remote communities but no specifics have been released.

“Council will be pushing the federal government for subsidies like Rex used to have, Warren Truss said they’d reintroduce it but they haven’t clarified it at this stage,” Cr Dal Broi said.

“We hope between that subsidy and council assisting where we can we’ll bring the price of the airline tickets to a reasonable rate.”

Mr Truss’ reform of the “En-Route Rebate Scheme” is reportedly with the minister for final assessment.

“The en-route subsidy scheme is currently being finalised and the Minister will announce arrangement for the scheme once all remaining details have been decided,” a spokeswoman for the minister said. 

Griffith council had also been negotiating an arrangement with ill-fated Canberra based airline Brindabella until it appointed receivers and retrenched most of its 140 staff just days before Christmas.

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