Dumping Northwest NSW ports.
Rex’s closing Air Link Dubbo’s network will leave a big geographic hole. Eight ports from Lightning Ridge to Cobar, North West of Dubbo, were first served by BAT DC3s after WW11, 7 passing to A/NSW F27s in the early 60s, each getting 3 or 4 shared flights per week direct to Sydney. Falling patronage saw this pass to Dubbo based Air Link Navajo feeder services with links to the regional service capital Dubbo, and Sydney connections by Hazelton. This passed to Rex post Ansett collapse, now serving just 5 of the original ports. Only Cobar with a mine provides any numbers, 8,000 pa, the others 800-1500, and Coonamble just 200 pa.
Cobar would still support morning and evening return 9 seaters to Dubbo and hopefully someone might take that up. On present numbers Burke and Walgett should jointly support 5 return flights weekly, but for the other ports the outlook is bleak. Lightning Ridge passengers may have to drive 75kms to nearby Walgett and Coonamble’s 160kms to Dubbo. If still unviable a Queensland type subsidised route system should be considered but would likely see routings and road links much as above. Fares under that system are considered about 20% below non subsidised rates but frequencies are half or less as larger pressurised aircraft required to be used.
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