Tomkinson Group welcome a very positive development for the Bendigo business district recently, with the announcement that Qantas will soon commence direct flights to Sydney from Bendigo’s upgraded airport.
Starting on March 31 (presumably to avoid any risk of an April Fools’ Day farce!), Qantas will operate return flights six days a week, increasing to daily flights during the peak summer period. This is a significant development for the Bendigo region, considering it is over 30 years since a regular commercial airline service operated out of Bendigo.
This service has been made possible after recent upgrades to Bendigo Airport, where Tomkinson Group played key survey and engineering roles. The state government tipped in $4.7 million from its Regional Aviation Fund and the City of Greater Bendigo contributed $5 million to recent upgrades to Bendigo Airport, which included a new hangar and runway.
QantasLink chief executive John Gissing said the new service was in response to local demand, with businesses needing an easier way to access Sydney. “No airline has ever offered regular passenger flights between Bendigo and Sydney – so these flights are a win for both travellers and tourism,” Mr Gissing said. “Direct flights will offer a more convenient way to do business in Sydney, saving travellers around four hours driving time on a round trip instead of flying via Melbourne.”
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the route would boost tourism and business opportunities and estimated it would attract nearly 15,000 visitors to Victoria’s fourth-largest city a year. “That’s great news for local cafes, motels, restaurants and the Bendigo economy,” he said.
Like most regional airports, Bendigo’s is owned and operated by the local Council. Modelling commissioned by the Council found the new service would inject $2.8 million into the regional economy during its first year of operation.
Michael Robertson, owner and director of food processor and fruit and vegetable wholesaler J.L King and Co, was one local business owner excited at the prospect of quicker and easier trips to Sydney. “We’re in Sydney every month, but now I think that will become a bit more regular I suppose. It’ll give us the opportunity to get there a bit more often without it being so much of a stress,” Mr Robertson said. “It gives us opportunities to bring the guys we deal with in Sydney into Bendigo as well – it opens Bendigo up to Sydney a bit more.”
Dennis Bice, from the area’s peak commerce group Be.Bendigo, said the flights would boost the city’s health service, universities, tourism operators and other industries. “It’s not only the benefit of people flying out of Bendigo, it’s the ability of people flying in to experience the regional centre and what Bendigo and surrounding areas have got to offer.”
The service will operate morning flights from Bendigo to Sydney from Monday to Saturday, and afternoon flights from Sydney to Bendigo from Sunday to Friday. This is certainly a welcome development for the Bendigo region, and another step in the continuing evolution of Bendigo as a viable regional alternative to compliment Melbourne’s growth.