Preparations are under way for the arrival of a new carrier at Mount Gambier’s airport – with only 10 days until QantasLink lands.
The Qantas subsidiary will start operating out of Mount Gambier on March 28, offering five return services to Adelaide and Melbourne, adding to the existing service provided by Regional Express.
The new service follows the multi-million dollar upgrading of the airport, overseen by operator Grant District Council.
Council chief executive Darryl Whicker said the arrival of QantasLink had been in the pipeline for several years and council had received great support from the community for the new addition.
“Council has been working with the Qantas operations team to make sure everything council can do is done in preparation for the first flight,” he said.
“The first flight will be a turbo prop Q300 which has 50 seat capacity,” he said.
“QantasLink will initially offer five return services per week to Melbourne and Adelaide, on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.”
Mr Whicker said travellers would have significantly increased choices when it came to air travel, operating out of a state of the art airport terminal.
“We are delighted that our investment in the airport has attracted QantasLink, but more importantly we will now have two viable air carriers which will ultimately give much greater choice for passengers and businesses to access air services,” he said.
“Over the last three years council has spent approximately $9m on the facility, delivering much needed upgrades.
“Council has had a long-term vision for its regional facility to be the gateway to the Limestone Coast, to have a viable service for tourists, locals, businesses and we are delighted that our investment now supports two regional carriers.”
Mr Whicker said the newly developed facility would offer an increase in flight services, which would lead to increased passenger numbers.
“Regional Express is increasing the number of flights as well, so where people are looking to fly in and out the same day it will offer a lot more choice, which is such a good thing for passengers,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Grant District Mayor Richard Sage, who welcomed increased options for passengers.
“Council has worked hard with both carriers to ensure that we can offer an array of schedules to accommodate not only the needs of tourists, but also for businesspeople who need to access Adelaide and Melbourne,” he said.
“This can only be a good thing for those looking to access Mount Gambier via air.”
A Qantas spokesperson said Qantas was working with its tourism partners to promote the Limestone Coast to its millions of frequent flyers across the country.
“Qantas, in partnership with the South Australian Tourism Commission, announced last Thursday (March 11) the Qantas South Australia Sale with fares from Melbourne to Mount Gambier from $99 one way and Sydney to Mount Gambier from $169 one way (when you book a return flight) bringing more interstate visitors to the region,” the spokesperson said.
The sale finishes at midnight tonight.
Council is planning an official opening of the newly redeveloped airport terminal next month.