LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has expressed his disappointment over the demise of Skytrans, describing the local airline as a “fabulous corporate citizen” in the Far North.
He has also distanced himself from criticism of the State Government, saying that the decision to award the Gulf route contract to Rex “didn’t help” but if Skytrans had won the tender it still wouldn’t have saved the company.
Mr Entsch said he had had several discussions with Skytrans managing director Simon Wild over recent months regarding the company’s ongoing viability.
“Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that Skytrans had geared their business around the high Aussie dollar being maintained. With the dollar now heading below 80c, this model was doomed.
“Skytrans have been fabulous corporate citizens for 25 years; I congratulate them for all they’ve achieved in that time and for their consideration of their staff during this process.”
Mr Entsch commended work by the State Member for Cook, David Kempton, and West Wing Aviation for agreeing to operate interim flights on the Skytrans routes so that the impact on passengers is minimised.
“I hope that Rex, together with any other operators who help to fill the void, will grab the chance to make use of the skills and experience of the staff that have been recently released from Skytrans,” he said.
“It also provides an opportunity for the Department to re-review the costings to ensure that it’s viable for airlines to operate the route and affordable for people to travel, as well as more accurately reflecting the needs of residents throughout Cape York and the Torres Strait.”
In regards to the Gulf contract, Mr Entsch said that Skytrans lost out in a legitimate tender process irrespective of who was in government, but added that there was a key lesson to be learned by Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.
“Their procurement process should factor in the uniqueness and the essential service nature of the Regular Passenger Transport flights throughout the remote areas of Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait,” he explained.
“There should have been more weight factored into the uniqueness of this particular service and we need to make sure that it in the future these things are considered.”
Mr Entsch said he would continue to work with local stakeholders and Mr Kempton to ensure that the Far North gets the best possible outcome from the situation.
“I know that David Kempton has been working very actively on this issue and I’ll certainly support him in his endeavours.”