Re­source down­turn hits air route

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Airnorth will next month axe its weekly re­turn ser­vices link­ing Kar­ratha and Port Hed­land to Broome, Ku­nunurra and Dar­win.

The Bris­tow He­li­copters-owned com­pany blamed a down­turn in the re­source sec­tor within the Pil­bara and said “the vi­a­bil­ity of the ser­vices has been sub­ject to on­go­ing re­view”.

“Un­for­tu­nately our anal­y­sis over the past few months has in­di­cated de­clin­ing pas­sen­ger de­mand for these ser­vices and, as a re­sult, the weekly ser­vice will cease,” an Airnorth spokes­woman said.

The car­rier said it would con­tact pas­sen­gers af­fected by the can­cel­la­tions and re­funds would be avail­able for pas­sen­gers.

The last Airnorth ser­vice to the Pil­bara (Kar­ratha and Port Hed­land) will be Tues­day, May 17, 2016.

Kar­ratha-based ac­coun­tant Mark Heth­er­nan uses the Airnorth ser­vice out of the Pil­bara when he works in Broome for one week ev­ery month.

“I feel that too of­ten these big cor­po­rates take the easy money in good times and do not sup­port re­gional areas when things get a bit tough,” he said.

“I am an ac­coun­tant and un­der­stand eco­nom­ics, but also un­der­stand money is not com­pletely ev­ery­thing.”

Airnorth chief ex­ec­u­tive Daniel Bow­den said the car­rier was com­mit­ted to the Broome mar­ket and still of­fered daily ser­vices link­ing the Kim­ber­ley town to Ku­nunurra and Dar­win, and on­ward con­nec­tions from ei­ther Broome or Dar­win.

“We also con­nect Ku­nunurra and Dar­win to Perth via Broome with our code­share part­ner Qan­tas,” he said.

“We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the lo­cal mar­ket for ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties and would like to thank all our cus­tomers and the Broome re­gion for their con­tin­ued sup­port.”

Broome In­ter­na­tional Air­port gen­eral man­ager Paul McSweeney said although the news was dis­ap­point­ing, the de­ci­sion was un­der­stand­able in the eco­nomic cli­mate.

“Airnorth is a valu­able air­port cus­tomer that still of­fers good con­nec­tions to Ku­nunurra, Dar­win and beyond,” he said.

“We work closely with Airnorth and, should the mar­ket pick up again, we will work closely with them to try get these routes back.”

Aus­tralia’s North West Tourism pro­motes tourism in the Pil­bara and Kim­ber­ley re­gions.

ANWT chief ex­ec­u­tive Glen Chid­low said the move high­lighted the dif­fi­culty in main­tain­ing in­tra-re­gional jet ser­vices.

“But im­por­tantly for res­i­dents and visi­tors to the Kim­ber­ley, there are still daily con­nec­tions be­tween Broome, Ku­nunurra and Dar­win,” he said.

Broome Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try pres­i­dent Rhondda Chap­pell said the can­cel­la­tion was “greatly dis­ap­point­ing” and could have an ef­fect on busi­nesses in Broome and the Pil­bara.

Ms Chap­pell said the BCCI would present a case to Airnorth if peo­ple could demon­strate a need for the route to con­tinue.

Airnorth has can­celled its weekly re­turn ser­vices.

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