A pilots shortage has forced Qantaslink to re-assess its Coffs Harbour services.
A pilots shortage has forced Qantaslink to re-assess its Coffs Harbour services.

Qantaslink cuts back flights

COFFS Coast residents were hit with a double whammy yesterday when QantasLink announced it was axing services on its Sydney route and a new survey revealed an increase in flight delays at the airport.

The survey by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, showed on-time arrival and departure delays in November 2007 for both QantasLink and Virgin Blue between Coffs Harbour and Sydney had risen dramatically since the same time in 2006.

Meanwhile QantasLink announced it was suspending one return service each weekday and one Sunday service from Coffs to Sydney.

The move will cut 72 seats a day between Coffs Harbour and Sydney.

The airline has blamed its decision on an Australia-wide shortage of pilots.

QantasLink group general manager regional airlines Narendra Kumar said the schedule adjustments are 'small and temporary'.

"We have done everything possible to minimise the impact of this temporary schedule change for our Coffs Harbour passengers," Mr Kumar said.

Coffs Harbour Regional Airport manager Bevan Edwards said the pilot shortage is consistent across the industry.

"The advent of new carriers has exacerbated the problem, resulting in a shortage of pilots, technical and airport staff across Australia," Mr Edwards said.

He said the tightening of the schedule can be dealt with at this stage but may have an affect on local services in the future.

"Without those 72 seats a day, we still have the capacity to absorb the 2 per cent growth Coffs Harbour Regional Airport is experiencing," Mr Edwards said.

"But if the suspension of services goes on too long, we will have a problem."



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