Push to have Qantas and Virgin operate out of Orange Airport

COMPETITION: Regional Express and Corporate Air currently fly from Orange while Virgin and Qantas are in tourism boss Peter Robson's sights.
COMPETITION: Regional Express and Corporate Air currently fly from Orange while Virgin and Qantas are in tourism boss Peter Robson's sights.

Qantas and Virgin Australia airlines will be asked to start regular Orange-Sydney flights in a bid to increase capacity and reduce airfares for tourists and locals.

Orange Region Tourism chairman Peter Robson said extra competition and more flights were needed to meet a growing demand for tourist and business travel.

Mr Robson said he wanted to work with Orange, Blayney and Cabonne councils to submit plans to the airlines to join Regional Express [Rex] in flying the Orange-Sydney route.

“The big issue for us is getting people to Orange,” he said.

“We’ve got to do something about the airport, we’ve got to get some competition.”

Mr Robson said he flew the Orange-Sydney route weekly.

He said he paid fares of about $350 one way, but Qantas’ regional arm Qantaslink had fares of about $200 for Dubbo-Sydney.

“That’s a real stumbling block for us,” he said.

“If we can do that in 2018 that will be a great initiative for us.

“We know there is a strong market for people [in Sydney] saying ‘what can we do on the weekend, let’s go to Orange’.”

However, he said that with road and rail travelling times unlikely to be cut anytime soon, the focus should be on improving airline services.

Member for Orange Phil Donato backed the move.

He said accessibility was important for Orange.

“I think that would be great for the town if we could get something like that to happen,” he said.

A spokesman for Virgin Australia said Orange was not on its radar at present.

“While we continually review our network, we have no current plans to operate flights between Sydney and Orange,” he said.

A spokesman for Qantas said it also regularly reviewed its network.

“I don’t think Orange is in our current plans but we are always happy to talk to stakeholders such as councils,” he said.

Rex currently flies several services daily between Orange and Sydney while Corporate Air has regular flights to Brisbane and Melbourne from Orange.

Last week Rex called on the federal government to relax visa laws to allow more foreign pilots to fly in Australia to ease shortages.