Council buys airfares to secure flight path

Article image - Council buys airfares to secure flight path Southern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Cr Mary-Ann Brown and CEO Michael Tudball at the airport.

Southern Grampians Shire Council in Victoria has pledged to purchase $15,000 worth of pre-paid tickets to help secure the return of a passenger air service between Melbourne and Hamilton.

Council recognises the important economic and social benefits an air service provides and continues to advocate strongly to achieve this goal, said Mayor Mary-Ann Brown.

“We are committed to supporting the community in attempting to bring passenger air services back to Hamilton airport. Improved connections to the State’s capital can only support the regional centre service role that Hamilton provides as well as provide new economic and social opportunities for the Greater Hamilton region.”

Council’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Michael Tudball said, “There are real efficiencies which can be gained by utilising air travel for trips to Melbourne, rather than travelling by vehicle, particularly when considering factors such as staff time and productivity as well as avoiding the costs associated with overnight accommodation and meals.

“Staff and Councillors are often required in Melbourne to further the interests of our region and the opportunity to utilise air travel will definitely help our operational efficiencies, he said.

Launch of the campaign to return passenger air to Hamilton occurred early in December, and so far a quarter of the $300,000 needed to underwrite the return has been realised.

Mayor Brown said Council is greatly encouraged by the initial support for the trial return service, but it needs wider community support to make it a reality.

“Together with the State and Federal Governments, Council has made significant investment over the last 18 months to future proof the Hamilton Airport.

“We have the infrastructure in place, we have an excellent facility and our officers have worked hard over the last 12 months to attract new business.

“Now we need the financial investment from our community, our industry leaders and business owners, and a commitment to regular usage to make it happen.

“We are doing everything that we can to ensure this trial happens and we implore others to get on-board and support this trial.”

Managing Director of Par Avion, Shannon Wells, said he was encouraged by the commitment of pre-purchasing tickets since the pledge drive launched in December.

“I’m pleased to see the initial interest for the trial and look forward to seeing a continued demonstration of support from the Greater Hamilton Community for the service to proceed.”

Melbourne stock broker Tim Stewart, who owns a property near Yulecart and regularly commutes between Melbourne and Hamilton, has been working with Council and Par Avion to make this trial a reality.

“The convenience of a regular passenger service cannot be underestimated. The time for talk is over, we need financial commitment from the people of the Greater Hamilton region. Tell as many people as possible, act now and buy tickets. I will be committing financially and I implore everyone else to do so as well,” Mr Stewart said.