Plea to regulate Geraldton air route

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Geraldton businessman Craig Patterson says Geraldton needs direct air routes to other regional centres if it is to prosper.
Camera IconGeraldton businessman Craig Patterson says Geraldton needs direct air routes to other regional centres if it is to prosper. Credit: Geoff Vivian, The Geraldton Guardian

Virgin Australia’s decision to stop operating regular passenger flights between Geraldton and Perth after July 21 has left many wondering who will fill the gap.

The only other airline operating the route is Qantas, however Regional Express Airlines (Rex) has taken over other WA routes and now connects Perth with Esperance, Albany, Shark Bay and Carnarvon.

Geraldton businessman Craig Patterson wants the Perth to Geraldton route to be regulated once again.

“What is the advantage of being unregulated,” he said.

“We pay more, we have got an inconvenient service that is unreliable, so what is the advantage?”

Mr Patterson said he drove about 80,000km a year because he did not like flying to jobs in the Goldfields, Murchison and Pilbara via Perth.

He said he would much prefer to fly in smaller planes, like the Rex 19-seat planes, between Geraldton and other regional centres if they were available.

Mr Patterson’s business, Central Earthmoving, has mining company contracts and, because Perth is the WA hub for regional air services, he said he had had to establish a second base in Perth.

“Murchison and Pilbara towns are going gangbusters at the moment, but Geraldton is getting no benefit,” he said.

“A lot of our employees have to be in Perth because that is where the link is.”

Mr Patterson said Geraldton had been connected to other centres by rail, but now needed to be connected by air if it was to retain its status as the Mid West’s economic hub.

“Geraldton suppliers are really reliable and cost-effective, but we have seen all over the world if you cut out connections, the town just dies,” he said.

A Qantas spokesman said “a number of stakeholders” had contacted the airline to discuss opportunities for Geraldton.

“We’re continually reviewing our network and schedules, and after collaborating with the council we recently added an extra Perth-Geraldton service on Tuesday mornings to ensure a same-day service,” he said.

“We’ll continue to monitor demand across WA.”

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