Search continues for new air services operator for Warrnambool Airport | The standard


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A planned restart of an air passenger service from Warrnambool to Melbourne failed to take off despite hopes the city had secured a new carrier. Sharp Aviation withdrew from the area in June 2019 despite several attempts to keep the planes in the southwestern skies and in July 2020 a new operator announced they would be airborne within weeks. But before they could even take off, the state was thrust into another lockdown with the next 12 months spent in various states of hard restrictions and lockdowns. The plan had been to initially start with three return flights on weekdays, and one-way flights on Saturdays and return flights on Sundays, but it seems the adventure is off the table, for now. The city council, which runs the airport, said the uncertainty surrounding travel had played a key role in any attempt to get a service back up and running. But the council said discussions were ongoing. “Over the past two years the council has received a number of inquiries from air operators interested in serving Warrnambool and the region’s route to Melbourne,” the council said. “The impacts and uncertainty surrounding travel over the past 18 months have made these operators understandably cautious, but discussions are ongoing.” Sharp Aviation had withdrawn its daily service after a $300,000 support package was handed to it by the state government and Glenelg Shire and Warrnambool councils failed to boost passenger numbers. Sharp’s first flights from Warrnambool took off in the 2000s, and a second attempt at scheduled passenger service in 2015 failed to reach the heights of its original service as 15,000 to 16,000 passengers per year used it. City growth council director Andrew Paton has previously said a passenger plane service between Warrnambool and Melbourne was “essential” for the area and something a growing city needs. The council has been seeking funding to extend the runway so it can attract much larger aircraft and capitalize on the tourist trade – a project that would cost up to $10 million. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can access our trusted content: Now just a click away with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the option to receive information faster, at their fingertips with The Standard: Have you signed up for the The Standard’s daily newsletter and breaking news emails? ? You can sign up below and make sure you’re up to date with everything happening in the Southwest.



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