IN the last three months of 2017, almost 50 Sydney flights to or from the region’s two major airports were cancelled.
A Tamworth businessman has called for airlines to guarantee their flights, after he missed a business meeting in New Zealand when his Tamworth-Sydney flight was cancelled.
Figures show that in the last quarter of 2017, the Armidale and Tamworth airports had a combined total of 48 cancelled flights to and from Sydney Airport.
Shane Chillingworth had a simple message to airlines: “Don’t put the flight on if you’re going to cancel it”.
His business trip to Auckland was meant to have a six-hour turnaround, but due to the cancellation, it blew out to 24 hours.
“My intention was to go for one night and fly back the next day, I ended up staying two,” he said.
“It becomes an expensive way to do business. Having a reliable air service is crucial – the whole idea of flying is it’s quicker – but if you have a cancelled flight or two, you may as well drive.”
It’s not the only time Mr Chillingworth has had his flight cancelled, some times with as little as six hours’ notice.
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The Tamworth Business Chamber told The Leader Mr Chillingworth’s frustration was shared by the local business community, particularly when flights were cancelled without timely communication.
Even Tamworth mayor Col Murray isn’t immune from the impact.
“Last Friday I was late getting home for a function because my flight was late,” Cr Murray said.
While the number of cancelled flights was “certainly too high,” Cr Murray said it was a “very complex issue, with no silver bullet”.
“We have two very good brand names that fly in and out of Tamworth, and that’s certainly a positive,” he said.
“Those flights are being well supported by the business community incumbent on the airlines to use absolutely every endeavour to ensure that business commitment is reciprocated.”
QantasLink, who operates at both airports, made up the bulk of local cancellations with 36.
In November, the airline announced it would start flying fewer flights and bigger planes out of its Tamworth hangar, in an attempt to reduce the number of cancellations.
QantasLink chief operating officer Jenny Chamberlain said the company was “very conscious of the impact of delays”.
“The issues include aircraft maintenance taking longer than expected and many of our reserve flight crew pilots being tied up with training one of the largest intakes of new pilots in our history,” Ms Chamberlain said.