Mining company Fortescue Metal Group has cancelled its plans to start fly-in, fly-out charter flights from Busselton Regional Airport in September.
FMG confirmed it had recently made inquiries about flights from Busselton, but potential disruption to rosters made the proposition uneconomic.
News of the about-turn came as a disappointment to Busselton Mayor Ian Stubbs, who said he was told by City of Busselton staff that flights would begin next week.
“I’ve spoken with FMG and they’ve told me they had a good look (at flights) last year, but it didn’t work out due to changes to their rostering,” Cr Stubbs said.
“They came back again and did the same exercise and came to the same conclusion. They do intend to continue to monitor it to see if the sums add up in the future.”
Cr Stubbs said the plan was to start with two flights a week from Busselton with the possibility of more in the pipeline.
“It’s disappointing because we’ve been trying to get FMG on board for some time, but unfortunately it’s not adding up for them,” he said.
Aircraft charter company Network Aviation, a subsidiary of Qantas, confirmed it had made inquiries regarding flights from Busselton servicing FMG.
It said the decision to put the plan on hold was FMG’s and this was not due to cost factors or a lack of airport facilities.
City of Busselton commercial services manager Jenny May said in such instances the City dealt directly with the charter service or airline operator and not the mining company.
“We are, therefore, not privy to the future plans of FMG,” she said.
“A request for a new service by a charter operator servicing FMG to commence in early September was made.
“However, this has not progressed and no start date has been confirmed.”
Cr Stubbs said the future extension of the airport’s apron and addition of jet refuelling facilities would make Busselton a more appealing prospect for mining companies looking to run charter services.
“There have been a few other mining companies that have shown interest, but they are waiting for these jet refuelling facilities,” he said.