Jetgo news in the Daily Liberal today is disappointing.
- When I was elected Mayor in September 2011, I spoke with Dubbo residents about what they saw as priorities for Council and one of the main priorities was for more air services.
- Listening to the needs of Dubbo residents, I met repeatedly with 7 different airlines over several years to try and secure air services between Dubbo and Brisbane and Dubbo and Melbourne as the top two priorities as well as other ports including Canberra and Newcastle and inland routes.
- I received a series of ‘no thankyou’ responses from various airlines but kept plugging away.
- My first meeting with Jetgo was on 20 March 2013.
- After further discussions, Jetgo announced they would start flying to Brisbane and then would add on Melbourne.
- Council had already agreed that any airline that was going to open up a new route would receive a 100% discount on passenger fees for the first year of operation but they would have to pay security screening fees from their first flight.
- Jetgo had asked for a 50% discount on passenger fees in their second year of operation.
- Council sent Jetgo a letter to confirm that the first year of operation for each route would have no passenger fees charged and further discussion would be required at a subsequent Council meeting to determine any additional discounts that may apply to the second year of operation.
- Jetgo officially started Brisbane – Dubbo operations on 20 July 2015.
- All flights between Brisbane and Dubbo until 20 July 2016 would have had no passenger fees applicable.
- Further discussion was promised for flights after 20 July 2016 but unfortunately my knowledge or involvement of what occurred after that date is non-existent because Council amalgamation took place on 12 May 2016. These discussions would typically have been a part of the budget and revenue discussions for the 2016-2017 financial year. I would have hoped that the Council Administrator or the new Council would have continued with the intent of the original direction of Council and had those discussions about a 50% discount.
- The Mayor and Council is now at the point where they are trying to wind-up a company that serves an important purpose for Dubbo.
- My personal opinion and business experience says that it is always better to work with a company that owes you money to try and let them trade through a debt rather than wind them up. Typically, when a company is wound up the unsecured creditors receive minimal cents in the dollar. If the company is wound up, Council will receive minimal funds and lose an important service that people in Dubbo said was important to them.
- I am sure the Mayor has had discussions with other airlines and has someone prepared to step into the breach if the Council sends Jetgo broke but I would prefer to work with an airline that has shown faith in Dubbo first. It took a long time to secure this service for Dubbo so it would be disappointing to lose this service that is important to Dubbo.