Port Augusta's only passenger air passenger service operator, Sharp Airlines, has announced it will stop running flights between Adelaide and Port Augusta from May 31, 2017.
The announcement was made by Sharp Director Malcolm Sharp on Wednesday, May 3, who said the company had been squeezed out of the market by competitors offering similar services.
“After providing regular passenger services between Adelaide and Port Augusta for the past eight years and with the recent arrival of Qantas Link and Regional Express [Rex started its Whyalla service in 2002], the increased seat capacity meant the region was now adequately serviced by these two companies,” he said.
“This decision will allow Sharp Airlines to accommodate new business recently secured in South Australia and to consolidate its position as the provider of choice for Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) sector, mining and energy industries and corporate charter market.”
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said he’s frustrated by the announcement but said he’s aware of two ‘very interested’ and one interested airline that wants to replace Sharp’s services.
“And hence why Council will be looking to further progress discussions with other providers that operate or are willing to operate in the region,” he said.
According to Mayor Johnson, some of those prospective service providers are willing to offer larger aircraft as part of their service.
He was disappointed in Sharp not giving Council earlier notification because Council has been unable to engage any new airlines while the current contract is in place.
However he believes there’s a ‘quite large’ demand for airline services for flights between Port Augusta and Adelaide, mainly from public servants.
Sharp Airlines operate a range of regular passenger services, charter and FIFO flights, outback tours and freighter services across five states and employs around 74 staff.
A Sharp Airlines spokesperson said customers who have made bookings for after May 31 will be provided with a full refund.
They’re advised to contact 1300 55 66 94. For further information on this announcement visit www.sharpairlines.com.au.
… we had our suspicions for some time that this may be imminent.Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson