Friday, July 09, 2010

Moree gains Brisbane air service

I see from the Northern Daily Leader that Brindabella Airlines has launched it's Moree-Brisbane flights.

The photo shows pilots Captain Shane Carr and Captain Todd Kristenson welcoming Brindabella chief executive officer Michael Rasmussen on board the historic Brindabella flight.

I have written a fair bit on this blog about both the history and current position of civil aviation in New England. I really hope that this service succeeds.

Moree's location as the largest centre on the western side of New England creates problems for the town. It's not actually all that far west, about 428k or a bit over five hours driving time from the coast, but its far enough west to create service delivery problems with the way services are now structured. For example, it is a bit over three hours drive to the big base hospital in Tamworth. The time is much worse if you have to rely on public transport.

The service will allow Moree people to access Brisbane services. It will also give Brisbane people better access to Moree.


Greg said...

I wonder - is there a service between Moree and Newcastle? Brisbane would be closer, but by air perhaps only 10 or 15 minutes. That would be used up and more getting through Brisbane air terminal and sitting in traffic to the city. Newcastle has the advantage of being a smaller regional airport and easier to fly into and out of than the larger capital city airports making it a realistic option for visitors.

Brisbane does have far better public transport than Newcastle so that is a Brisbane advantage for the visitor. Anyone who has followed the debate in Newcastle would understand that the poor state of public transport in the city has been a particularly thorny issue. That probably won't improve (at least in the short term) under Macquarie Street rule.

Jim Belshaw said...

I don't think so, Greg. There have been a number of attempts to get services from different northern ports to Newcastle, Impulse was an example. Brinabella itself has one Canberra-Newcastle service.

The Brisbane routes that Brindabella now provides were generally those once provided by Oxley then Eastern. EWA once also provided some Brisbane services.

The problem with the Newcastle services is that traffic volumes have been too thin. There just haven't been sufficient linkages. There is a chicken-egg problem here. If Newcastle had more, more would come, making it easier to get more.

Greg said...

Yes, connectivity from Newcastle is an important issue. I understand that there are plans to add services to more Australian destinations - Darwin, Perth (and perhaps Adelaide?) and also internationally to New Zealand and SE Asia in the not too distant future (subject to customs handling facilities).

Unfortunately there are a number of significant constraints at Newcastle which hinders it's development. Firstly, the land is leased from the Dept. of Defense which imposes certain restrictions due to the adjacent RAAF operations.

A second restriction is that the airport is actually owned and operated by Newcastle and Port Stephens councils. So capital to fund expansion becomes an issue.

The third issue is that (apparently) a longer runway is needed to handle the largest aircraft. That means extending the runway eastwards over Nelson Bay Road which in turn means planning and building an underpass for that public road which is the responsibility of NSW. It also requires a commitment by NSW to recognise the airport as a genuine international option. NSW has consistently refused to do this because they have no stake in it and it would compete with Macquarie's Kingsford Smith airport and their rights to operate a second international airport in the Sydney basin.

Hence, some of the less than visionary proposals to expand either Richmond or Warnervale instead of seriously considering the Newcastle option.

So as you can see there are three competing levels of government all with their own self interest and not working together for the obvious regional benefits that the airport development would bring.

Even with these significant constraints the airport is the fastest growing regional airport in Australia with plans for further expansion. You can only imagine the regional potential if the three levels of government actually co-operate and put politics aside. New England would have a genuine alternative to Sydney and Brisbane airports to service a population of almost 2m people north of Broken Bay.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's very interesting, Greg. Are there any public record studies on the future of the airport? And a question I should know the answer too. What mechanisms exist at present for creation of a cross-hunter perpsective? Does the Hunter Valley Research Foundation play part of this role?

Greg said...

I wish I could answer your questions Jim. Maybe somebody else has some further information? You would have to think that Port Stephens and Newcastle Councils would have a strategic vision.

Jim Belshaw said...

Mark may have some comments, Greg, that will help. There is a sub-text here that I want to do a post on, rebuilding community of interest.

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