As 2018 draws to a close we decided to revisit some of the stories affecting the region throughout the year, so we suggest you pour yourself your preferred tipple, grab a mince pie, crank up “Fairytale of New York” and journey through some of the stories and articles our volunteers gathered for you in 2018.
A plane full of passengers were given the fright of their lives this morning when the engine in the aircraft carrying them suddenly shut down with a ‘massive bang’.
The Airnorth flight TL160 left Darwin Airport at 7.30am Friday, bound for Gove, but had to turn back shortly after because of the dramatic event, NT News reported.
Frustrated residents in a remote Arnhem Land community have chartered their own flights after the town’s only airline cancelled a service at late notice.
In January, regional airline Airnorth apologised for schedule changes and cancellations due to what its chief operating officer said was a global pilot shortage.
But Maningrida residents say the issue has persisted and recently left more than 30 people stranded on the eve of school holidays.
Following on from the success of our recent change.org poll (read more here) concerning Gove’s desire for a reliable and affordable air service, MP Luke Gosling OAM has asked for our assistance in gathering your stories and comments. Luke is creating the Fair Fares NT website with the aim of publishing stories from concerned members of the public.
I noticed that Air North have announced some new route they will be flying from Darwin to Alice Springs. This is very good. I also noticed that this has been supported and subsidised by the government. Last year I appealed to the Chief Minister to support remote communities in accessing cheaper travel. Can you tell me what the government are doing to support and subsidise the existing air routes to remote communities Galiwinku, Maningrida, Milingimbi, Ramingining, Gapuwiyak and other communities.
It is important that people from communities have access to air services out there. We do know that particularly in the north of the Northern Territory it does present some real challenges when the wet season and the monsoon kick in, and with access to certain communities. Because we still have the issue with roads and trying to get as much sealed as possible to communities more accessible year round.
There is going to be a body of work happening at a federal level looking at the subject of regional air services, which of course will look at places like remote communities and level of services that do go out there.
That is going to be a very important body of work and I would urge you to make a submission—but I am sure you have already done that—with regards to how airline services can service Territorians better going out there across the Northern Territory.
We did invest in extending the centre run, which is the run that goes from Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and back, because that is something we need as well. It is an important service and that is one thing that I will thank the previous government for where they got that trial up and running. And we have continued that as well, to see if we can see some commercial operation happening there. Because it is an important service.
But what is so fantastic about this dry season is that that is going to extend from three days a week to five. That is going to test some of those commercial opportunities there, about making it a more viable and sustainable route for Territorians to travel on in getting up and down the track.
Looking at regional transport, it is an important area to look at those accessibility issues. Getting out to community. I know it is a tough cost of living pressure if people have only air transport to use. It is something I would be keen to discuss with you further Member for Nhulunbuy and happy to have a bit of a conversation so I can understand the needs of your constituents a bit better.
In the meantime we have managed to make sure that we invest in airstrips as well because that is very important infrastructure. I know Milingimbi, that has been an issue there and we have put significant funds into it through the budge to look at the widening and the issues there with the airstrip.
We would be more than happy to sit down with you, Member for Nhulunbuy, to understand some of those transport and accessibility issues. But again, I think it is going to be a really important body of work that we see through those questions that the senate committee look at with regards to remote and regional air services. And looking forward to seeing what comes out of that and where there are more gaps that need to be filled in ways in which we can ensure that there is more sustainable and cost-effective airfares for people who live out bush.
Great effort from concerned past and present Govites! We now have over 3,ooo signatures!
There’s still time to sign the petition if you are not one of the three thousand plus who already have.
Please don’t forget to Like and Share!
The Gove Online Community News petition will close and be sent to Senator Malarndirri McCarthy on 1st February.
Don’t forget that it is extremely important to submit your Airnorth-related stories to the forthcoming senate inquiry into ‘the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities’. It really doesn’t have to be anything formal or academic. A simple letter explaining your experiences is more than enough. It is really important that you voice your opinions.
Submissions can be made here:
The deadline for inquiry submissions is 5th February 2018.
You might also like to contact Gove Online Community News with your Airnorth stories and you can email email@example.com
GOVE residents have been left stranded after Airnorth cancelled flights to the region but the airline will not commit to fixing the problem.
Blaming a national pilot shortage, an Airnorth spokeswoman said customers could expect more delays and cancellations over the coming months.
Despite the shortage of pilots, Airnorth has continued to expand its destinations, causing some remote Territory residents to question the airline’s integrity.
A very Merry Christmas to you all and a huge “thank you” for taking the time to sign, share and comment in your thousands.
It is clear that there are strong feelings of resentment, disappointment, annoyance and downright anger with the delivery and cost of Airnorth’s monopoly in our struggling region.
One thing is painfully clear to me and notwithstanding the fact that I can ill-afford to fly out of Gove to savour the sugary, salty and additive-laden delights of a Macca’s or KFC, for the region to move on from the post-Rio slump to develop and prosper, an affordable and reliable air service is crucial.
This petition illustrates this depth of feeling but it would be great if as many of you as possible would submit your stories to the forthcoming senate enquiry into ‘the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities’. It really doesn’t have to be anything formal or academic. A simple letter explaining your experiences is more than enough.
Submissions can be made at:
The deadline for submissions is 5th February 2018.
You might also like to contact Gove Online Community News with your Airnorth stories. You can email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thankyou so much!
THE Territory’s tourism economy will be forced into an overhaul once major projects like Inpex reduce, the Tourism NT chairman Michael Bridge said.
Mr Bridge, who is also a director of Airnorth — Australia’s second oldest airline — said high airfares were just one part of the challenge ahead.
The cost of flying to and from the Territory has again surfaced with independent MLA Terry Mills pressing for the lifting of restrictions allowing international carriers to move passengers to domestic destinations.
Living in a remote Australian community, residents put up with a great deal of inconvenience and expense. In Gove, we generally agree that this is the price of living in paradise. To say that traveling by air to visit family members is costly is an understatement, to say the least. The prohibitive cost of using Airnorth’s service is having an impact on separated families. One shudders to think how this could be affecting the long-term economic prosperity of the East Arnhem region.
A reliable and affordable air service for Gove is essential for the development and sustainability of the entire region.
Where Is Gove?
Gove (also known as Nhulunbuy), is located in the Top End of the Northern Territory and is remote by any standards. The only road out of town is the 663 km, Central Arnhem Road which is unsealed and impassable, even with a four-wheel drive, for months at a time each year during the wet season.
Therefore, we are reliant upon affordable and reliable air transport!
On 29 November 2013 Rio Tinto announced the closure of the alumina refinery (but not the bauxite mine) by July 2014 with the loss of 1,100 jobs, or almost 25% of the town’s population. The refinery ceased production in May 2014. The closure led Qantas to suspend flights on the route in August 2014, thus giving Airnorth a monopoly on the route.
Gove is fighting for survival!
Insult to Injury
Airnorth tickets between Gove and Darwin can be in excess of $800 for a one-hour flight! If you had booked a one-way flight on Air North’s website on 14 December 2017 to travel from Cairns to Gove on the 27 Jan 2018, you would pay $319.00, however the person sitting next to you, travelling all the way to Darwin would only have paid $236.40 for the entire trip.
We pay 35% more than the person sitting next to us to fly a shorter distance.
Former Airnorth CEO Michael Bridge said he was aware of passengers who simply got off at the flight’s stopover in Gove, to save money and threatened to ban them from flying Airnorth.
That’s a potent threat to a Gove Local!
Quality of Service
Lines of communication to Airnorth ‘customer service’ remain largely unanswered. A litany of delayed and cancelled and flights with little or no warning has made Airnorth the local in-joke and byword for unreliability.
However, we all know that the joke’s on us!
The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee will report by 30 March 2018 on their inquiry on operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities. Submissions should be received by 5 February 2018. Please read more about the inquiry on Gove Online community news:
What We Need From the Senate
We the undersigned, being current and former, Gove residents, request Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator for the Northern Territory, present this petition to the inquiry and tell them that:
“GOVE RESIDENTS EXPECT A FAIR DEAL. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SEE OUR FAMILIES, NOT ONLY FOR CHRISTMAS BUT ALL YEAR ROUND!”
Please sign our petition and leave comments below.