State Election: What do our candidates think of air services for Young and Cowra?

Candidates sitting for the state seat of Cootamundra have admitted that a regular air service for Young and Cowra would be convenient but have questioned whether it would be commercially viable.

In the lead up to the state election on March 23 the Cowra Guardian asked the candidates what, if any, steps they would take to attract air services back to Cowra and Young.

Jim Saleam who is running as an Independent said a service for the centres is "a great idea as far as it goes, yet, is it for the people?" he asked.

"Or is it for cargo planes and mining executives? Or for international training schools and local political identities?

"Passenger lines won’t pay and if a twice weekly or other service was appropriate, it would probably still require State subsidisation for passengers," Mr Saleam said.

Country Labor candidate Mark Douglass says "new air services will be a challenge as flight operators place more emphasis on the bigger centres including the capital cities".

"These will compete with Cowra and Young’s aspirations for flights to Sydney.

"Tapping into regional airports that now offer overseas flights like Canberra, Toowoomba and Coolangatta may be an option for tourism or industry.

"Many smaller rural towns have had air services cut over the last decade.

"Alternate forms of passenger transport have become more cost effective and more convenient.

"Big centres like Orange and Wagga are growing significantly demanding more daily flights. Sydney airport has limited remaining landing slots," he said.

Jeffery Passlow, who is running for the Greens, says "unless flights are commercially viable, the airlines would not consider them".

"f I want to get a flight to Sydney, I need to go to Wagga. It is probably a commercial decision, no doubt based on passenger numbers, by the airlines concerned to only fly to Orange, Dubbo and Wagga," he said. 

"It would be more convenient for me and others in the vicinity of Young and Cowra to have commercial flights (but) unless such flights were commercially viable, the airlines would not consider them.

"While it would be desirable to have commercial flights, unless there is significant development in the region, development that increases the population, I doubt that the airlines would see such flights as commercially viable."

Steph Cooke, Mark Douglass, Jim Saleam, Matthew Stadtmiller and Jeffrey Passlow.

Steph Cooke, Mark Douglass, Jim Saleam, Matthew Stadtmiller and Jeffrey Passlow.

Mr Passlow pointed out that facilities at Cowra and Young would most likely need to be improved to bring them up to the standard required by the Civil Aviation Authority for commercial services to return.

Sitting member for Cootamundra and National Party candidate Steph Cooke said: The NSW Government has deregulated almost all air routes in NSW, meaning that carriers don’t require an air services contract with the NSW Government in order to operate the services.

"I am happy to work with Cowra Shire Council and carriers to start discussions on opportunities for carriers to service Cowra Airport," Ms Cooke said.

A response to the question had not been received from Shooters and Fishers party candidate Matthew Stadtmiller at the time of going to print.