PAR Avion has been forced to relocate its aircraft to Melbourne because government regulations have made servicing the planes in Griffith too expensive.
In the lead up to the sixth month anniversary of the Griffith to Melbourne route, the company has also announced it will trial Sunday evening flights during September and a limited offering of cut-price $99 fares.
Par Avion managing director Shannon Wells said the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s new “part 145” requirements were causing “real headaches” for small airlines and the decision to base the fleet at Essendon was not a slight against the Griffith airport’s facilities or staff.
“There’s a fantastic facility in Griffith, but they’d need to spend about $150,000 in additional staff and facilities just to maintain our aircraft under the new regulations, which is a lot of money for very little extra business,” Mr Wells said.
“It just means the plane sits in Melbourne overnight and the first flight of the day from Griffith to Essendon will depart an hour later.
“It’s a new rule which came out in July last year and it’s causing headaches for small operators across the industry.”
Mr Wells said the company was still shy of the critical mass to ensure the route’s sustainability but was positive that as time goes on more locals would adopt the service.
“(Yesterday) morning one of our flights was full but (today) there’s just two people booked on one flight and it’s that inconsistency we need to reduce, but it’s trending upwards and I’m optimistic we’ll get there,” he said.
“The cost of the airfare is something I’m hearing people aren’t happy with, but there’s not a lot I can do about it yet. However, once more business people use it and pay for fully flexible airfares, that will give me more scope for discounted fares.”
To entice more Griffith business fliers Par Avion has introduced refunds on fully flexible flights.