OUR SAY: It’s up to us to ensure our Melbourne route stays airborne

VIEW WORTH PRESERVING: Access to a direct flight service to Melbourne is rare in regional NSW cities.
VIEW WORTH PRESERVING: Access to a direct flight service to Melbourne is rare in regional NSW cities.

IN February this year, the Central Western Daily published an editorial urging the city’s residents to support the freshly-launched Orange-to-Brisbane flight service.

The column warned that the quickest way to ensure the direct route’s demise was to ignore it as a transport option, leaving the provider no alternative but to pack up their baggage trolleys for good.

Thankfully, this hasn’t happened, and residents are still able to fly to Queensland for business or leisure in a little over an hour.

On Monday, the same airline, Fly Corporate, launched a second service from Orange Regional Airport, this one heading south to Melbourne’s Essendon Airport.

From all reports, the inaugural flights were a great success, with passengers remarking on the convenience and comfort the journey affords.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, we’d like to re-issue the warning of eight months ago: use it or lose it.

If the people of Orange and the surrounding towns and cities don’t utilise this service it will disappear into the ether, taking with it one Orange’s draw cards.

Outside of Dubbo’s airport, which also offers services to both Brisbane and Melbourne, Orange is the only centre for hundreds of kilometres which has been gifted these routes.

Among other benefits, they are something we can use to lure tree-changing professionals to our city.

After all, one of our weaknesses to potential new residents is our isolation, and people relocating from capital cities want to remain close – in terms of travel time – to family and friends.

Semi-daily flights to Sydney, Brisbane and now Melbourne tick this box.

At a time when young families are being squeezed out of metropolitan housing markets, this will make Orange an even more attractive proposition as a place to settle.

The elephant in the room is the price of the tickets. Some will struggle to pay upwards of $250 for a one-way fare to Melbourne. That’s a given.

Others may have the money, but would rather pay a few hundred dollars for a couple of tanks of petrol and a hotel room, than thousands to fly their family across the Victorian border. That’s understandable, too.

But unless those who can afford to patronise the service do precisely that, it will cease to exist.

Let’s not let that happen.