Strong demand for direct flights: study
Direct flights between Broome and the Pilbara could be a step closer to reality, after a recent study revealed strong business demand from the tourist town.
The Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry surveyed 78 organisations last month to contribute to studies by the Pilbara Regional Council, which is researching the feasibility of the direct flights on behalf of airline Aviair.
The questionnaire asked respondents which routes they would potentially travel on and how regularly the flights would be needed for business.
Karratha proved to be the most essential destination, with 92.19 per cent of respondents stating they would utilise the service.
In excess of 80 per cent said they would travel to the Pilbara town more than once a year and a quarter said they would need it at least once a month.
The Broome to Karratha service, with a stopover in Port Hedland, also fared well in the survey, with 73 per cent stating it would be useful for their business and three in four wanting to fly more than once a year.
The survey comes just months after the Shire of Broome became the fifth local government to enter a memorandum of understanding with Aviair, which aims to revive its connection from the Pilbara to Broome and Exmouth after it was dropped in 2016.
It is understood that, if introduced, the Broome to Karratha return service would run once each week and carry nine passengers, whereas a service with a stopover in Port Hedland would run twice weekly, also seating nine passengers each flight.
BCCI chief executive Jael Napper said the data clearly demonstrated demand for a flight connection to the Pilbara.
“A number of organisations in town have business or investment interests, which means they would regularly commit to these flights,” she said.
“It is fantastic that these councils have banded together to help make this happen. When the Broome to Pilbara link stopped, the Chamber received concerned letters from a huge number of businesses in Broome who needed these flights.
“We are glad to be doing everything we can to help revive a link that is desperately needed.”
Aviair managing director Michael McConachy said the data collected by the BCCI was consistent with the airline’s findings.
“Our initial research showed that there is a strong need for this service and it appears the Chamber’s survey reflects this research,” he said. “This is an important link that we’re very keen to bring back. It is clear that businesses need it, but it will also be essential for education, health and government agencies.”
The Broome Advertiser was told the airline hoped to garner two years of local government funding until reaching a stage of self-sufficiency.