Derby’s flight fury

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Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
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The refurbished Derby Airport.
Camera IconThe refurbished Derby Airport. Credit: Derby Visitor Centre

Delays to a commercial flight trial between Perth and Derby have disgruntled residents of the North West town, with concerns its multi million-dollar renovated airport is still yet to be touched.

The State Government allocated $1 million towards a 12-month trial of subsidised twice-weekly flights between the two destinations as part of its 2017/18 budget and said the successful airline for the service would be announced by early 2019.

But the Department of Transport told the Broome Advertiser last week that the tendering was “still in process” and they would not be in a position to provide the outcome until “mid-2019.”

The department was unable to comment on when the trial itself would actually start.

Shire of Derby-West Kimberley president Geoff Haerewa said his biggest fear was that the service would not begin until the end of 2019, meaning not one commercial flight would have touched down at the refurbished Derby Airport in the year that it officially opened.

The hub’s $8 million revamp was completed last November. It included a new visitors’ lounge and upgrades to the tarmac, runway lighting, fire hydrants and water waste systems.

Mr Haerewa said Derby residents were becoming extremely frustrated that no dates for the flights had been set and an airline was yet to be confirmed.

“The number one question Shire councillors and myself are being asked is when the flights are starting and I am disappointed that I have no answer to give them,” he said.

“The best-case scenario was that this service would be up and running by June.

“This would have been right in the middle of our busiest time of the year, the optimal time for them to begin to get the maximum benefits out of the subsidy.

“We are likely not getting the best bang for our back with this $1 million pledge, which is a shame given the potential impact these flights could have on our economy and business, as well as our aim to make the town a commercially viable destination.”

Derby has had no direct commercial flights with Perth since 2016.

Mr Haerewa was due to meet with Public Transport Authority chief executive Richard Sellars on Tuesday.

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