Tourism Minister: Flight cuts 'a kick in the guts' for the Whitsundays
TOURISM Minister Kate Jones says Tigerair's announcement to suspend its service to Brisbane is 'a bit of a kick in the guts' for the region battling to recover from Cyclone Debbie.
"I've been assured by Tourism Whitsundays that this is a decision of the airline in relation to aircraft availability, not demand for the route," Ms Jones said.
"I'm advised that the route is successful in regards to having more than 80 per cent loadings.
"Tourism Whitsundays are working to reinstate the flights as soon as possible.
"Given it's almost 12 months since Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays it does come as a bit of a kick in the guts."
Whitsunday Coast Airports General Manager Airports and Commercial Infrastructure Brian Joiner said they were continuing to work with Tigerair after they announced this morning they were suspending services between Brisbane-Whitsunday and Brisbane-Perth from March 1.
Mr Joiner said flights were only suspended at this stage.
"Tigerair recently announced they are reviewing operations as part of their fleet transition program from A320s to the Boeing 737s," he said.
"Airport, Council and Tourism Whitsundays have a close and ongoing relationship with Tigerair and we will continue to work together on opportunities for potential expansion of services in the future.
"Tigerair will continue to operate their popular budget direct service Whitsundays-Sydney and we are meeting with them in Melbourne next week to discuss future route options," he said.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said Whitsunday Coast Airport is one of the fastest growing regional airports in Australia.
"In December we smashed the single month record of 45,000 passengers and this is the sixth consecutive year of positive growth in passenger numbers," Cr Willcox said.
"We are catering for further growth with a recent runway upgrade and terminal expansion ensuring visitors to our region enjoy a positive experience when transiting.
"Our airport team is also exploring options with airlines for commencement of a Whitsundays-Cairns direct flight to link with international services."
A Tigerair Australia spokesperson said the airline regularly reviews its flight network and schedule based on a number of factors including operational requirements, demand and market dynamics.
"Today's announcement is a route suspension, not a market exit," the spokesperson said.
"Tigerair Australia remains focused on providing our customers with affordable and reliable air travel and we will continue to review these routes to assess their viability."
Just had my @TigerairAU #BNE to #PPP/#PER flights later this year cancelled... :( they must be struggling. I really like Tiger. Have rebooked me onto @VirginAustralia. Excellent customer service! https://t.co/ovFbqJZT0a— Jonathan Wei (@mecharoo) February 7, 2018
EARLIER: TIGERAIR Australia has announced it will suspend services between Brisbane and Perth and services between Brisbane and Whitsunday Coast from March 1.
In a statement posted on their website, it says Tigerair Australia "regularly reviews its flight network and schedule based on a number of factors including operational requirements, demand and market dynamics".
"Customers affected by these changes, will be notified directly by the airline and provided with an alternate flight onto other same day services (where possible) and as close as possible to the original scheduled departure time (or the option of a refund).
"We sincerely apologise for disrupting your travel plans and are doing everything possible to minimise the inconvenience.
"Customers booked to travel on affected Tigerair Australia services from 1 March 2018 onwards will be notified directly by the airline."
One customer who received a notification of the change in flight has instead been booked on a Virgin Australia flight. The email reads:
"Thank you for choosing Tigerair.
We regret to advise that your upcoming flight has been cancelled as Tigerair is suspending services between Brisbane and Whitsunday Coast effective 01 March 2018.
Rest assured we will get you to your destination and we have arranged a new flight for you with Virgin Australia.
We sincerely apologise for disrupting your travel plans and we are doing everything possible to minimise the inconvenience.
If you choose to accept your new flight please consider this email to be a confirmation of your new flight details, and bring this with you when you travel. You will be required to check-in with Virgin Australia staff at the Virgin Australia airport check-in, as web check-in will be unavailable."