Shire re­jects flight ser­vice

North West Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Ali­cia Perera and Tay­lar Amonini

The first Pil­bara coun­cil to con­sider the fea­si­bil­ity of a plan to in­tro­duce an intra-re­gional flight ser­vice con­nect­ing North West towns has turned it down.

Ku­nunurra-based avi­a­tion com­pany Avi­air is work­ing on a pro­posal to set up a Pil­bara Link flight ser­vice trav­el­ling be­tween towns be­lieved to in­clude Broome, Port Hed­land, Kar­ratha, Onslow, Ex­mouth, Parabur­doo and New­man to cre­ate reg­u­lar pub­lic trans­port air routes in the North West.

The plan is in an early fea­si­bil­ity stage and a draft me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing is be­ing put to lo­cal gov­ern­ments to fur­ther ex­plore the idea in com­ing months.

De­tails of the MOU are con­fi­den­tial at this stage but it is un­der­stood to gen­er­ally ask lo­cal gov­ern­ments if they would be will­ing to ex­plore the idea fur­ther.

How­ever, the Shire of Ash­bur­ton, the first lo­cal gov­ern­ment to con­sider the draft MOU, turned it down at its coun­cil meet­ing last Tues­day, cit­ing the likely ex­pense for pas­sen­gers.

The Pil­bara Re­gional Coun­cil has been en­gaged by Avi­air to col­lab­o­rate with lo­cal gov­ern­ments on the plan on their be­half.

PRC chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Fri­day said the draft pro­posal was an ex­cit­ing prospect for res­i­dents, vis­it­ing busi­ness­peo­ple and tourists with the re­gion cur­rently “un­der-ser­viced” for flights.

“If the PRC gets broad en­dorse­ment of that MOU, then our next stage is to look far more deeply at what’s been put for­ward and how we might be able to go about putting that in place, con­scious of var­i­ous lev­els of gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion and the like,” he said.

“It’s im­por­tant once we have a brief to pro­ceed it’s ro­bust, it’s trans­par­ent, and we’re res­o­lutely fo­cused on the ben­e­fits for the re­gion.”

Mr Fri­day said a ma­jor­ity of Pil­bara coun­cils would need to ap­prove the draft MOU for it to be ex­plored fur­ther.

Avi­air man­ag­ing man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Michael McConachy con­firmed the com­pany was work­ing on a pro­posal for an intra-re­gional flight ser­vice but said he was not in a po­si­tion to com­ment on de­tails at this point be­cause of com­mer­cial sen­si­tiv­i­ties.

Mr Fri­day said the project was still in its early stages and pos­si­ble routes would have to be ex­am­ined for eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity.

The City of Kar­ratha, Town of Port Hed­land, Shire of East Pil­bara, Shire of Ex­mouth and Shire of Broome are ex­pected to con­sider the draft MOU at coun­cil meet­ings in com­ing weeks and sev­eral ex­pressed in­ter­est in the idea.

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