JETSTAR’S revelation yesterday it was struggling to keep its Avalon Airport facility viable sparked immediate reaction from Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine, who offered millions of dollars to help retain the operation.
“We have put on the table a substantial offer to assist in the continuation of those services in a secure long-term basis and we have asked the operators of Avalon Airport to match our offer,” he said.
“We believe that having two 24/7 curfew-free airports is an important strength for Victoria.
“We want to work with Avalon Airport, we want to work with Jetstar and we want to also attract other operators to Avalon.”
He said it was premature to suggest the proposed rail link from Melbourne to Avalon would be reconsidered.
Public Transport Minister and Polwarth MP Terry Mulder said planning work was continuing on a rail link to Avalon.
“Three preliminary route options have been identified,” he said.
“The department expects to have a preferred route alignment ready for environmental and planning approval in mid 2014.”
Jetstar’s news came as parent company Qantas reported an expected pre-tax loss of up to $300 million in the first half of this financial year and announced it would cut at least 1000 jobs, including 300 at Avalon.
"With a state election coming up we need to remind the government Avalon is a crucial gateway. Sometimes in business you’ve got to wear short-term grief for long- term gain."
Federal MP for Corangamite Sarah Henderson told Parliament she would fight to retain the Jetstar link and called on Qantas to invest in better schedules for Avalon.
South-west leaders yesterday said it was crucial to keep the airport as an alternative to the congested Tullamarine.
Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said Avalon provided an important role in future expansion of the region’s exports and tourism.
“If there are direct flights from there to get our produce to overseas markets it would be very advantageous to the south-west,” Cr Neoh said.
“We also need to have funding for improvements to our Warrnambool regional airport.”
Corangamite Shire mayor and Great South Coast group chairman Chris O’Connor said it would be a major blow if Avalon closed.
“With a state election coming up we need to remind the government Avalon is a crucial gateway,” Cr O’Connor said.
“Sometimes in business you’ve got to wear short-term grief for long- term gain.
“Melbourne will need a second major airport and I’d like to see it at Avalon.
“It would be a lot more cost-effective to put a rail link there than to Tullamarine.”