TIGER Airways yesterday found itself in the firing line after it suspended the Rockhampton-Melbourne direct service from August.
Capricorn Tourism and Economic Development Limited chief executive Mary Carroll voiced her extreme disappointment, saying the airline had treated the region like a scapegoat.
And she said its failure to inform Rockhampton’s tourism and airport leaders of the pending suspension before going public was “rude”.
Late Friday afternoon Tiger announced it would suspend flights on the Rockhampton-Melbourne route from August to improve punctuality on other routes.
It said rising oil prices, the recent Queensland natural disasters and not having a crew base in the state were contributing factors.
A company spokes woman yesterday stressed the suspension was temporary and was made so the airline could address customer concerns about punctuality on other routes.
Ms Carroll said the tourism organisation, with support from the Rockhampton Regional Council and the Capricorn Resort, had run a $50,000 marketing campaign in regional Victoria to promote the flights towards the end of last year.
“Now this is the thanks we get as a destination,” Ms Carroll said.
“It’s extremely disappointing, particularly considering the direct flights have been very well patronised.
“The fact Tiger Airways seems to have a business model that only schedules flights six months in advance appears to be not only flawed but affects our ability as a destination to promote these flights.”
She said the difference in professionalism between Tiger and other airlines was “quite stark”.
“This is not the first time they have done this and our region should not be treated like a scapegoat,” Ms Carroll said.
“How are we to promote these flights if Tiger keeps chopping and changing?
“For people who have pre-booked flights this leaves a bad taste for them with the airline and the destination.”
The council issued a statement saying it was disappointed by the decision, however it would continue to work with Tiger Airways in the hope the airline would return to the Rockhampton Airport in the future.
The council said based on the April figures for the Rockhampton to Melbourne flight operated by Tiger Airways, the annual estimated passengers would total approximately 40,000.
This equated to 20,000 passengers travelling to Rockhampton and 20,000 travelling to Melbourne.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.