Task force takes up Singapore flights push

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Singapore's Merlion Park.
Camera IconSingapore's Merlion Park. Credit: Jakeb Waddell

The mission to establish a permanent direct air route between Broome and Singapore has quickly entered its next phase, with a task force of WA representatives due to fly to the Lion City this week to meet airline executives.

It comes as the second set of trial flights in as many years to the Kimberley town concluded on Monday, in an effort to test the viability of the overseas service.

Broome International Airport, Tourism WA and Australia’s North West Tourism would this week look to move the project into its next phase this week by meeting with senior network officials from Singapore Airlines, whose regional arm SilkAir operated the trials over the past two years.

And the stakeholders are not short of ammunition in their pitch for a continual service.

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This year’s eight legs were about 70 per cent full in total, compared with a load factor of about 46 per cent last year.

Travel agents and tourism bodies based in Singapore have praised the service and believe a three and a half hour trip to Australia would be an exciting prospect for the Asian market.

Travellers from both tourism hotspots have voiced their hopes for the route to continue on an permanent basis, with Broome passengers highlighting international connectivity and the ability to have a quick overseas getaway as draw cards, while Singaporean travellers were impressed by perfect Australian weather and the ultimate outback experience just a short trip away from them.

Broome International Airport chief executive Paul McSweeney said the organisation would not stop until the North West town had the permanent route.

“The purpose of this particular trip is to take these trial flights to the next level, whether that be an increased amount of flights over a number of months or the conversion into regular flights,” he said.

“This second trial has been a success as we took on board the learnings from the first series last year and it is very exciting but we are not finished yet.

“We will keep going at this until we crack it — I can’t say with certainty that we will crack it by next year but we will not die wondering.”

ANWT chairman Ian Gay said he was “quietly optimistic” that a permanent arrangement was immanent. “We have a destination that is aspirational in the North West and I think we have markets in Europe and beyond who want to come here,” he said.

“We just need to keep on pushing it and try and get others on board with the same belief.”

Tourism WA managing director Brodie Carr said the route provided international visitors with more options when choosing to holiday in the State.

SilkAir chief executive Foo Chai Woo said the company would continue to explore opportunities to provide new destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, but there were no plans for regular Singapore to Broome services.

A similar response was given to the Broome Advertiser after the 2018 trial, however the airline agreed to another series of flights just seven months later.

Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said the increased number of international visitors through the latest trials to the town had a direct economic impact.

“This would increase further with the advent of permanent flights on this route,” he said.

The Shire contributed $50,000 in funding to support the trial this year, on top of a $90,000 pledge to underwrite last year’s inaugural service.

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said an “eventual” regular passenger service would be a game changer for the community.

“These flights would make Broome the second international gateway to WA after Perth, which would be a great advantage for time-poor international travellers.”

The flights over the past two years were a result of a partnership between BIA, TWA, Shire of Broome and ANWT.

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