Big drop in air­port num­bers

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

Con­struc­tion of Qan­tas’ new lounge at Kar­ratha Air­port has been com­pleted with the fit-out now start­ing ahead of an an­tic­i­pated open­ing next month.

But news of the im­pend­ing open­ing comes as a Fed­eral Govern­ment re­port high­lights a big hit to Kar­ratha air­port’s traf­fic be­cause of the end of the re­sources con­struc­tion boom, with pas­sen­ger num­bers in 2016 drop­ping 19.5 per cent com­pared to 2015.

A Qan­tas spokes­woman said the lounge had been de­signed with chang­ing mar­ket con­di­tions in mind.

“The new lounge is pro­gress­ing well with the build com­plete and the in­te­rior fit-out ready to be­gin,” she said.

“This in­vest­ment is part of Qan­tas’ broader plan to im­prove the air­port and lounge ex­pe­ri­ence in Western Aus­tralia, fol­low­ing re­cent lounge up­grades in Broome and Perth.”

The spokes­woman said Qan­tas ex­pected de­mand for travel on the Kar­ratha route to sta­bilise within the next 18 months.

She said Qan­tas was op­er­at­ing smaller air­craft on the Kar­ratha route to pro­vide the fre­quency of flights re­quired by cus­tomers.

City of Kar­ratha Mayor Peter Long said de­spite the drop, pas­sen­ger num­bers re­mained strong and were in line with the City’s fore­casts.

“Where (the Bureau of In­fra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Re­gional Eco­nomics) has pre­vi­ously in­cluded char­ter flight fig­ures in its re­port­ing, these have now been re­moved, which has clearly skewed the data,” he said.

“Our fig­ures, which are based on the ac­tu­als that air­lines are charged, has seen a 10.6 per cent

drop in pas­sen­ger num­bers when com­par­ing Jan­uary 2016 to Jan­uary 2017.

“We look for­ward to an ex­cit­ing new phase for the air­port with new air­line lounges be­ing de­vel­oped, in­ter­na­tional flights be­ing ex­plored and plan­ning for growth in pas­sen­ger num­bers ex­pected as new re­source projects come on line and the lo­cal econ­omy di­ver­si­fies.”

Mr Long said the air­port re­mained a prof­itable com­mer­cial as­set for the City.

There is some op­ti­mism on the hori­zon, with the City in talks with Sin­ga­pore Air­lines sub­sidiary SilkAir to run weekly flights be­tween Kar­ratha and Sin­ga­pore.

Mr Long said the City was also in dis­cus­sion with air­lines to bring more interstate routes to Kar­ratha.

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