Airnorth and North Territory Sign Air Services Agreement
10th Sep 2015
North Territory Minister of Transport Peter Chandler revealed earlier today that the state government and Airnorth have penned an air services agreement that will see the regional carrier connect Katherine with Alice Springs, Darwin and Tennant Creek.
This will be the first commercial flight from Katherine airport in over a decade
The service will start on 19th October officially and Airnorth will be flying it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, using Embraer E120 planes.
According to Mr. Chandler, the so called "milk run" is the final piece of the puzzle that was needed to connect the North Territory.
The minister said:
"Look, I am excited, because it connects the Territory. I know everyone talks about the Stuart Highway and driving? and I really think [an RPT service] is the final bolt-on that we need. You've got planes that fly over all these places but to actually connect the towns is the icing on the cake."
The route was budgeted (by the government) for a two-year trial period, regardless of how it goes. However, Chandler says that he believes commercial flights will be landing at Katherine airport before the trial is finished.
"We've already budgeted for it, so the two years is a commitment. It won't take more than two years to establish itself as a rock-solid service and it's possible it could end up running five days a week. I want the government to support it by making sure their own public servants use it wherever possible.
Williem Westra van Hothe, a member for Katherine, said the trial could bring new economic opportunities for the NT, but that the future of the RPT service depends largely on how the community receives it.
Van Hothe explained:
"The Katherine community has been crying out for this route for some time. This is the first regular air service for Katherine and Tennant Creek since 2004, when the previous service became commercially unviable. I'd encourage residents and business owners to support the service, cementing its place in the region for years to come."