WITHOUT a vital state government funding support package The Standard can reveal Sharp Airlines was due to fly its last service from the south-west on Friday.
The government along with Warrnambool City and Glenelg Shire councils have contributed matched funding and provided a lifeline to the company to keep its south-west services in the air for the next six months.
The funding guarantees the twice-daily-weekday and Sunday services to and from Melbourne will continue until July.
The government or councils did not reveal what assistance Sharp Airlines had been given after concerns over patronage and freight services on the route threatened its survival.
Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes said it was now important for the region’s businesses, tourism operators and the community to demonstrate the need for the air service to help secure its future operations.
Sharp Airlines managing director Malcolm Sharp welcomed the boost and said it was vital to keep it operating.
“We look forward to working with the relevant stakeholders to secure the service longer term,” he said.
Warrnambool mayor Tony Herbert said he was excited about what the next six months could yield for Sharp Airlines and tourism to the region.
Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank said airline connections were vital for regional Victorians because they enabled people to stay connected to Melbourne and beyond.
The service returned to Warrnambool from Hamilton in 2015 after a 10-year hiatus.