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Qantas has made the call to pull the plug on its Mount Gambier-Melbourne route 16 months after introducing the service.
Mount Gambier woman Karen Dowdy has had to drastically change international travel plans after the major airline announced it would cancel the route from August 15.
Ms Dowdy will be flying from Melbourne to the UK on August 30 and had planned on flying into Melbourne the day before by Qantaslink.
Ms Dowdy said it was “really disappointing” as she had been hoping to use her frequent flyer points for the first leg of her trip to Melbourne.
A flight that would have taken just over an hour will now be comprised of a bus ride to Warrnambool followed by a train to Melbourne, taking around six hours.
“It will be a little inconvenient — we’re lucky we had planned on getting to Melbourne the day before anyway,” Ms Dowdy said.
Qantas first launched Melbourne-Mount Gambier flights in March 2021.
Representatives from Qantas, Grant Council, Mount Gambier Council and MP Tony Pasin welcome the first QantasLink flight at Mount Gambier Regional Airport in 2021. Picture: Jessica Ball
Speaking to the ABC, Rex deputy chairman John Sharp slammed the company saying regional towns have suffered because of Qantas’ predatory behaviour.
Mr Sharp said Qantas began entered the regional market to punish Rex for having the “temerity” to begin domestic flights between the major cities.
“Qantas went into all these traditional markets that Rex has been operating in for years and undermineded our financial position,” he told the ABC.
“It was as obvious as the nose on your face to us.
“They were engaging in what I would describe as predatory behaviour.”
Mr Sharp said Qantas would be pulling out of more regional locations over the next few weeks describing their actions as “unconscionable”.
“They were happy to use these regional towns as a sacrificial lamb.”
A QantasLink spokesperson said four different schedules were offered following customer feedback in a bid to entice more travellers to the service.
Following the first flight touching down, QantasLink CEO John Gissing said the airline had an important role to play in promoting regional tourism.
However, after months of border closures in 2021 and a lack of demand meant the services were not “viable”, a spokesperson said.
“We saw genuine growth potential on the Melbourne-Mount Gambier route but unfortunately, we haven’t seen the growth materialise and it’s no longer viable for us to continue operating,” a spokesperson said.
“We remain committed to the Mount Gambier community with our flights to Adelaide and are working with tourism partners to promote all that the Limestone Coast has to offer.”
This article first appeared on www.adelaidenow.com.au
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