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Airline ditches Adelaide after one year

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Regional carrier FlyPelican has abandoned the only direct flight from Adelaide to Newcastle, just over a year after launching the service.

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The airline started flying mainly business and tourism passengers to and from Adelaide Airport in March last year.

More than 10,000 passengers had used the service, which operates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, according to Newcastle Airport.

But FlyPelican has announced it will stop servicing the route in April 2019.

A spokesperson for Adelaide Airport told InDaily this morning that while it was disappointing the service would not continue, negotiations were underway with other carriers to take up the route.

“We would like to thank FlyPelican for their efforts in introducing the first direct Adelaide-Newcastle service,” the spokesperson said. 

“We’re naturally disappointed in their decision not to continue the service. 

“We have formed a strong relationship with Newcastle Airport and will work with them in finding an alternative carrier to operate on this route.”

Asked what financial support the airport had offered FlyPelican to attract it in the first place, the spokesperson told InDaily: “We provided marketing support to assist FlyPelican in promoting the Newcastle service. The level of support is commercial-in-confidence.”

InDaily asked FlyPelican why it is cancelling the service but received no response.

However, in a statement, FlyPelican CEO Paul Graham said his airline needed to make “brave decisions and play a leadership role in our community” – and that launching the Adelaide flights last year had been an example of that leadership.

“The direct service between Newcastle and Adelaide was a perfect example and enabled us to provide a valued service to many thousands of people,” he said.

“We would like to thank Newcastle Airport for partnering with us on this project and we look forward to continuing to work with them across our broad network of regional routes.”

The route was reportedly operated by Alliance Airlines, using 80- and 100-seat Fokker aircraft, on FlyPelican’s behalf.

Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock said the route had not been “viable” for FlyPelican, despite a 2.5 per cent increase in passengers numbers to the airport over the past year.

“Strong passenger numbers and a clear increase in demand from the Hunter’s community for better air travel options, provide a sound business case for other carriers to consider this (Adelaide) route,” he said.

“The Adelaide route has been a good addition to flight options from Newcastle Airport and we believe that it continues to hold significant appeal to other carriers.

“Our team is currently working with a number of carriers that can meet the longer term needs of passengers choosing to fly into and out of the Hunter to a variety of potential destinations.”

Cock told Australian Aviation Magazine in January last year that “community demand for the Adelaide route has been very strong and we are thrilled to be working with FlyPelican and Adelaide Airport to deliver this direct service to passengers.”

“A quick, direct two-hour flight provides a smarter choice, and will reduce return travel time by up to eight hours.”

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