BRINDABELLA Airlines has ceased its service between Orange and Sydney for the next six and a half weeks while its pilots are trained to fly larger planes.
Customers only found out about the suspension yesterday when they attempted to book tickets for flights and were told the airline was off air until September 1.
When the airline restarts in Orange it will continue to offer three flights per day, but all flights will be in larger 30-seater Jetstream 4100 planes.
One businessman, who declined to be named, said he was shocked by the announcement but said the airline needed to lift its game if it was to return.
“I’ve been trying to support them,” he said.
“Rex (Regional Express) have been more reliable, Brindabella have cancelled services and I’ve missed meetings... it affects people who have planned their whole day.”
“If they’re going to come back in September they’ve got to be fair dinkum... even if it’s next year... they’ve got to do it properly.”
Brindabella’s chief commercial officer James Blake played down the suspension saying it was “a softer period for bookings” but would not elaborate on the cause of the downturn.
He said the larger planes would allow cabin crew to serve passengers snacks and refreshments enroute to Sydney.
“Brindabella Airlines will continue its flight crew training program, which will result in the majority of its pilots being trained to operate the airline’s Jetstream 4100 aircraft,” he said.
The businessman said he flew to Sydney at least once a fortnight, but was often forced to catch the earlier Rex flight in the morning to get to Sydney in time for meetings.
“I hope they come back at an earlier time,” he said.
“The later departure doesn’t suit because you can’t do a full day of business.”
Aerodrome Committee chair Cr Chris Gryllis said the decision to cease the service was up to Brindabella, but he hoped the airline returned.
“The management have very enthusiastically promised us they want to stick around,” he said.
But the businessman said there was little point having two airlines if one was not viable or reliable.
Passengers who had flights booked during the suspension have been contacted by Brindabella to discuss their options, Mr Blake said.
* Have you flown with Brindabella Airlines? Tell us about your experience. Contact Clare Colley on 6391 2900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.