ORANGE City Council has not given up on retaining two airlines in Orange, but in the long term the city could lose the two coveted slots into Sydney Airport Brindabella Airlines held.
Problems with the troubled carrier came to a head on Sunday when the company went into receivership one day after announcing the suspension of all its services while eight of its 10 aircraft were grounded by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) because of overdue inspections.
The airline ceased its Orange/Sydney service from December 2, but still owes the council $36,908.30 in unpaid passenger fees.
The council’s general manager Garry Styles said the council was an unsecured creditor and staff would lodge applications to have the debt considered by the receivers.
“It was disappointing news to hear that receivers had been appointed to Brindabella Airlines,” he said.
“Orange City Council will continue to look for opportunities to attract a second airline to Orange.”
With Brindabella’s receivers KordaMentha calling for expressions of interests to purchase the airline, all slots the carrier held into Sydney Airport will be reserved in the short term according to Ernst Krolke, the chief executive officer of Airport Coordination Australia, the body that controls flights in and out of Australian airports.
“At the moment [the two slots] will stay with Orange, but in the long term if there is no need for additional Orange capacity they might go to another route,” he said.
“But it’s got to be determined if some other airline takes over [Brindabella’s] operations, all we can do is keep [the slots] protected.”
Mr Styles said the council would keep a close eye on the landing slots and would do what they could to ensure Orange passengers had as many options as possible.
“The landing time slots into Sydney Airport are in a sense an asset of Brindabella that I imagine the receivers will be looking at very closely,” he said.
“They would be an opportunity if the receiver decides to trade out of the current circumstances, or they could be traded to another airline.”
Mr Krolke said Brindabella’s slots may be used by other airlines on a temporary basis until route licences were sorted out, but they would not be used to relieve the lengthy waiting list for Sydney slots.
Aerodrome committee chair councillor Chris Gryllis said he was disappointed and saddened Orange had lost Brindabella but, unlike other affected regional areas, Orange was in the fortunate position of having the “pretty reliable” Regional Express (REX) service that had improved since the pre-Brindabella days.
“They have to make sure their planes are full and the only way they can do that is to make ticket prices reasonable,” Cr Gryllis said.