Qantas, Regional Express and Skytrans have been awarded long term contracts to serve on a number of routes in northern and central Queensland under the state government’s QConnect program.
The new awards replace emergency contracts which have been in place since March following the collapse of MacAir. They will see QantasLink retain its Townsville-Cloncurry-Mount Isa service, while Skytrans retains its Gulf, Western Route 1 and Western Route 2 runs, which sees it operate services from Cairns to Mornington Island-Burketown-Doomadgee-Mount Isa and Brisbane to centres including Quilpie, Thargomindah, Birdsville and St George.
Rex is the only new operator, taking over the Northern Routes 1 and 2 from West Wing Aviation, which will operate from Townsville to Winton, Longreach, Hughendon, Richmond, Julia Creek and Mount Isa. The services will be operated by Saab 340s, in addition to its Townsville-Mackay services which started earlier this year, and are due to commence on February 1.
“In 2009 we have established and steadily expanded our Townsville base and it now has three Saab 340B Plus aircraft stationed there,” said Rex general manager network strategy and sales, Warrick Lodge. “The awarding of the Northern 1 & 2 routes will see a fourth Saab aircraft deployed. In addition to the 17 ex-MacAir staff we already employ, we are also committed to keeping as many of the staff and agents currently involved in these Northern routes as we can.”
Meanwhile from January the QantasLink schedule will consist of five return services each week between Townsville and Mt Isa via Cloncurry, and six direct Townsville-Mt Isa return services.