A SECOND airline servicing Orange would not be viable according to Hazelton Airlines founder Max Hazelton.
Mr Hazelton’s comments come in response to speculation that a group of Australian investors is about to launch a bold plan to set up an airline in competition with Regional Express (Rex) in rural NSW.
Mr Hazelton said competition would cause one company to go bankrupt.
“If you want to go broke this is a sure way to do it,” he said.
Mr Hazelton said in order to be economically viable a plane must carry at least 20 passengers per flight out of Orange. He said Rex airline runs five flights and passenger numbers are lower than 100 passengers per day.
“Unless we have tremendous growth it would not work,” he said.
Orange councillor Chris Gryllis said he had long been an advocate for a second airline in Orange.
“When the passenger number reaches 50,000 and over per year the airline is deregulated,” he said.
“The numbers have been in excess of 50,000 for some time and we haven’t had any airline interested until now and that makes me very sceptical.”
Mr Hazelton said he had personal experience that a second airline would not work. He said Hazeltons used to run out of Armidale until the air licensing board gave Qantas permission to fly from Armidale to Sydney. He said the passenger numbers were not high enough to keep both airlines running.
“We had to pull out because Qantas kept lowering their prices and we couldn’t keep up,” he said.
“As soon as we pulled out prices went through the roof and we warned the people of Armidale that that would happen.”
Cr Gryllis hoped the speculation of another airline was true.
“The same thing happened four years ago right before council elections,” he said.
“There was rumours of another airline and nothing happened.
“It was just a rumour to keep ratepayers happy before an election.”