Airline all ready to take off in Griffith

TASMANIAN airline Par Avion touched down in Griffith on Wednesday to prove the city is well and truly on its radar.

The airline's management is hoping to commence regular flights between Griffith and Melbourne next month, once the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) gives the all-clear.

PLANE TALKING: Mayor John Dal Broi,
Par Avion managing director Shannon
Wells, chief pilot Alf Assovad and
deputy mayor Doug Curran at Griffith

PLANE TALKING: Mayor John Dal Broi, Par Avion managing director Shannon Wells, chief pilot Alf Assovad and deputy mayor Doug Curran at Griffith Airport.

The maiden flight was 45 minutes late but managing director Shannon Wells said smoke haze from the Victorian bushfires was to blame and it was not a sign of things to come.

"The initial investment is close to $1 million, because we'll be basing close to $800,000 worth of aircraft and a pilot in Griffith and assumedly we'll be underwriting some of the initial flights while we get established," Mr Wells said.

"CASA has told us mid-March is when they'll get back to us about an approval and until then we have to be careful about advertising I'm not a fan of taking people's money before I have a licence.

"But we are essentially just adding another port to our existing services so I can only assume we will meet all the criteria as we have done several times before.

"The flight into Griffith was really smooth and there was barely a puff of cloud a nice and uneventful flight which is just what we like."

Wednesday's proofing flight gave pilots a chance to discuss the nuances of the route including navigational quirks and any obstacles which may arise in the future.

The pilot who intends to move to Griffith, Peter Lovett, said he had already been looking into local rental properties.

"All things going to plan I will be moving here in early March and I have already been looking on the internet for places, but I've worked out you have to snap them up quickly," Mr Lovett said.

"From the first flight we have already worked out the only difficulty is coming in and out of the congested Melbourne air space, but other than that it's a straight line between Griffith and Essendon."

Deputy mayor Doug Curran looked forward to a boost in the local economy but issued a warning to locals who had championed the cause.

"A lot of Griffith businesses have major dealings with Melbourne and this new route will stop people who maybe previously said getting to Griffith was too hard from going to Wagga or Dubbo instead," Cr Curran said.

"This is something the community through many forums has told us emphatically they want so hopefully the community supports it because if they don't, they won't have anyone to blame but themselves."

The airline management has not yet determined whether they would begin with two flights three times per week or one flight five days per week but any further increases would depend on demand.

Par Avion staff installed computer equipment and training the current ground handlers during their time in Griffith.


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