Air of confidence

THE managing director of Tasmanian airline Par Avion has all but guaranteed flights from Griffith to Melbourne.

Twenty-one months after Rex scrapped the route, Par Avion managing director Shannon Wells was so confident of approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to start regular flights, he broke the company's self-imposed silence.

"We have already allocated the resources, aircraft and staff, all we have to do now is show CASA everything is in place and we can begin the service," Mr Wells said.

"We've already got a regular public transport licence and we've got Essendon as an approved port, we just have to add Griffith to our list of routes and I don't see that being a problem.

"We have kept it quiet so not to give Griffith false hope. We're confident enough now that we can reveal everything the last thing Griffith needs is an air service that sticks around for six months."

Late last year mayor John Dal Broi scrapped talks with Connect Jet after he found no record of the airline's CASA certification and became "fed up" with the excuses.

Council had also been in secret negotiations with Brindabella airlines before the company appointed receivers and retrenched 140 staff days before Christmas.

The news of Par Avion’s imminent service came as Rex management declared the entire aviation industry was financially haemorrhaging and approaching collapse.

“Rex is right, regional aviation is straining under regulatory burdens and increasing costs such as fuel,” Mr Wells said.

“But Rex withdrawing from Griffith opened up a good opportunity to utilise our planes which are not getting a lot of use in Tasmania and diversify our business, plus the suggested 10,000 passengers per year is a good fit for our aircraft. 

We intend to offer early-bird rates in the low $200s and regular flexible fares in the high $200s. 

The frequency will depend on how we can make it sustainable and what customers want.”

Managing director of Riverina Lift Trucks and Rapid Clean Griffith Robert Cappello spent yesterday driving from Griffith to Wagga and back to pick up suppliers from the airport.

Mr Cappello said regular flights from Griffith to Melbourne would improve business but he would wait until flights began before getting excited after being repeatedly disappointed.

“If an airline serviced the route between Melbourne and Griffith it would take a lot of strain of my business,” Mr Cappello said.

“Not only would it save me from driving to Melbourne once a month, it would save a lot of trips to Wagga like today ...”

Mr Wells will be in Griffith today inspecting the Griffith airport facilities.

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