Skytrans cancels Toowoomba-Sydney route following Qantas announcement

John Wagner says he hopes Skytrans can still play a part un the new Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport
John Wagner says he hopes Skytrans can still play a part un the new Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport Photo: Glenn Hunt

The arrival of Qantas into Toowoomba has claimed its first victim, with regional carrier Skytrans cancelling its Sydney services due to the new competition.

QantasLink, Qantas's regional arm, announced on Wednesday it would be the first airline to use the new, privately built and funded, Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport when it introduced daily Sydney services in November.

Skytrans had entered the Toowoomba-Sydney market in 2012, flying its 36-seat Dash-8s out of the smaller, council-owned Toowoomba aerodrome.

The first aeroplane with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman lands  at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport
The first aeroplane with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman lands at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport  Photo: Glenn Hunt

QantasLink's Dash-8 Q400s have a passenger capacity of 74 – twice that of the Skytrans aircraft.

Skytrans managing director Simon Wild remained upbeat despite the announcement, calling QantasLink's arrival a "cause for celebration" for the people of Toowoomba.

"Unfortunately, we are a small family airline and our cost structure does not allow us to compete," he said.

"Many regional markets just aren't big enough for two players and, being a small regional airline, we just can't compete with the larger carriers."

Mr Wild said Skytrans would continue to fly in and out of Toowoomba

About 100 passengers had pre-purchased Skytrans tickets between Toowoomba and Sydney on dates post-November 17, when QantasLink will begin its services.

Skytrans senior sales executive David Berry said those passengers would all receive refunds.

The Toowoomba aerodrome will continue to operate after the Wagner family-built Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport starts operations.

Wagners chairman John Wagner said he hoped to see Skytrans operate out of his family's airport, which had been built at a cost of up to $200 million.

"We're certainly in discussions with them about operating out of here," he said.

"The plus that we have over Toowoomba is we're 600 feet lower than Toowoomba Airport, so we're generally out of the weather, which means if I was the Skytrans owner I'd be coming out of here rather than going out of Toowoomba, quite frankly."

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said "market forces" would resolve the future of the existing Toowoomba Airport, but Mr Wagner was adamant there was still a place for the aerodrome.

"We, as a family and as an operator here, want it to stay open," he said.

"It houses things like the Darling Downs Aero Club, it houses the Warbirds and it's got a number of maintenance operations there.

"It's a vital piece of community infrastructure and we don't particularly want the flying clubs mixing with jet traffic here."

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