Icon Image Media Release – 1st July 2019 Council’s grab for cash will see airline services to Flinders Island slashed

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Today could see the beginning of the end for airline services to Flinders Island with the Flinders Island Council to raise the tax on passengers from $30 per return ticket to $60 per return ticket over four years. Already one of the highest per-head taxes in Australia, the tax appears not to act in the best interests of the Flinders Island Community or Sharp Airlines.

In a meeting with Council last month, Sharp Airlines agreed in principle to a small increase, provided it was spread across all airline and charter services to Flinders Island, not just those that land at Whitemark Airport. However, last week Sharp Airlines were informed that changes would come into effect today, with a twenty-five percent increase.

In contrast, a nine-passenger charter flight is charged three quarters less tax per passenger for the 2019/2020 financial year. The pure economics of this decision will naturally drive people into smaller and less safe aircraft.

On the 1st April 2019, the Federal Government announced $100 million for Regional Airport upgrades. Sharp Airlines urgently ask the Council to reconsider its position, and seek additional Federal and State funding for this vital infrastructure. Asking the Airline and the Community to dip into its pockets for an estimated $700 thousand per annum (up from the current $350 thousand per annum) ongoing is fraught with danger and will eventually make air travel unaffordable.

Should the council do nothing, we will be forced to reduce our services from 1,500 flights per annum to 1,200 which is a 20% reduction. We cannot simply put airfares up and increasing the load factor or efficiency of our services. Whilst regrettable, it appears to be the only option we have. We have worked hard with tourism operators and FITB to grow the market and would hate to see the positive growth to the Island’s tourism undone.

Sharp Airlines operates 15 aircraft, servicing five states, in the Airline and FIFO market and carries over 100,000 passengers and 1.5 million kilograms of freight per annum. With Bases in Adelaide, Melbourne (Essendon), Sydney (Bankstown) Launceston and Hobart our network continues to expand.

Sharp Airlines is continually growing and looking for opportunities both in the Regular Public Transport and FIFO operations.

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Sharp

Managing Direct / Chief Pilot - Sharp Airlines

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