by Molly Hancock
QANTASLINK chief operating officer Jenny Chamberlain released a statement on Charleville QantasLink services last Thursday.
A number of factors have recently led to issues with availability of aircraft and crew, resulting in cancellations and delays in several ports including Canberra, regional Queensland and Hobart.
"The issues include aircraft maintenance taking longer than expected and many of our reserve flight crew pilots being tied up with training one of the largest intakes of new pilots in our history,” Ms Chamberlain said.
"With fewer reserve pilots it means we're seeing an increased level of cancellations if several call in sick on any given day.”
QantasLink is looking to change their schedule and reduce the overall number of flights but instead use larger aircraft to maintain capacity.
"The adjustments include consolidating flights during non-peak times to free up aircraft and putting larger aircraft on key routes to maintain capacity,” MsChamberlain said.
This will see more Q400 aircraft replacing Q300 aircraft, which currently service Charleville.
In recent months Charleville Airport and residents have been subjected to QantasLink's unreliable flights and engine problems due to there only being three Q300s available.
QantasLink made it clear that airlines cannot operate certain aircraft into airports as the regulation requires passengers to be screened when travelling on an aircraft, which weighs more than 20 tonnes, including Q400 planes.
Charleville is the last airport in the QantasLink Queensland network that is non-compatible for other aircraft types.
Despite their new airport that was built earlier this year, QantasLink said in its press release that all decisions on local airport infrastructure were made by airport owners and operators.
In response to the statements from QantasLink, South West Regional Economic Development Association was fearful the Charleville regulated QantasLink service was in jeopardy.
"QantasLink representatives earlier this year advised Murweh Shire Council that they would be phasing out the Q300 aircraft which currently services Charleville,” SWRED chair and Murweh Mayor Annie Liston said.
"The economic impact of reducing this service would not just affect Charleville but would be detrimental to the whole southwest region.”
SWRED is seeking commitment from the Queensland Government to ensure this service will be maintained for the duration of the contract.
"We will also require funding assistance from both the Federal and State Governments to ensure the cost of the required screening and future operation of the airport are fully covered,” Cr Liston said.
"SWRED further calls on QantasLink to not abandon the southwest.”