Launceston Airport ’desperately’ needs more flights

FLIGHTS: Launceston Airport general manager would like to see flights to Adelaide and the Gold Coast from Launceston. Picture: Phillip Biggs
FLIGHTS: Launceston Airport general manager would like to see flights to Adelaide and the Gold Coast from Launceston. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Launceston is in desperate need of more flights in and out of the city, a report tabled at a Senate committee claims.

In a submission to the Regional and Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee, the Launceston Airport said that Northern Tasmania was under-served when it came to air travel. 

Despite averaging a load factor well in excess of the domestic average, flight numbers fell by more than 500 trips between 2014 and 2017. 

We’re running at a really high load and we desperately need new capacity.

Airport general manager Paul Hodgen

Passenger numbers have slightly risen in this period.

Airport general manager Paul Hodgen said the airport was engaged in ongoing talks to increase flight capacity.

“We’re running at a really high load and we desperately need new capacity,” he said. 

“The issue is that none of the domestic carriers have any radical flight increases planned.

“We have to battle with other regional airports to increase our capacity, so if we get a new flight, someone has to lose a flight.”

STAGNANT: Neither Virgin Australia nor Qantas Group have plans to increase flights in Launceston. Picture: Phillip Biggs

STAGNANT: Neither Virgin Australia nor Qantas Group have plans to increase flights in Launceston. Picture: Phillip Biggs

A Qantas Group spokeswoman said there were no plans to increase flight numbers in the near future. 

“We do put on more flights where it is required – for example over the 2016-17 summer months when QantasLink put on larger Boeing 717 jet aircraft, which added around 1200 seats, to match the increased demand over the busy summer peak,” she said.

A Virgin Australia spokesman also said there were no plans to add extra flights for Launceston. 

Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose said it was essential for Northern Tasmania to attract more passengers for the region to grow

Mr Grose also noted the importance of increasing domestic flights to ensure the state becomes an attractive destination for businesses to cross the Bass Strait.  

“It is extremely important for the business community, especially the tourism industry to see the airlines expand the permanent numbers of flights,” he said.

“There seems to have been a contraction in the number of flights available, which inevitably increases cost and reduces availability of seats.

“The Launceston Chamber of Commerce would like to see all carriers consult with the wider business and tourism industry to ensure that there are sufficient flights in and out of Launceston.”

Mr Hodgen said he would like to see routes to Gold Coast and Adelaide added to its Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane flights.