Shire rejects flight service
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.