Airport attracts interest of new airline

In the wake of the demise of Free Spirit Airlines’ services between Melbourne and Merimbula, a new airline is planning to start flying the route from September this year.

Currently we are completing projects aimed at commencing services between Essendon and Merimbula.

EastWest Airlines

“EastWest airlines is preparing a proposal to commence regular passenger transport (RPT) flights between Merimbula and Melbourne Essendon,” the Sydney-based company has said.

“EastWest plans to offer the service in conjunction with Sharp Airlines, as operator, subject to concluding satisfactory commercial arrangements.”

The managing director and chief pilot at Sharp Airlines, Malcolm Sharp, confirmed the two companies were in negotiation.

“We are in very preliminary discussions with EastWest Airlines at the moment and that is all I can say,” Mr Sharp said.

A Sharp Airlines metroliner was used for over a year on the Free Spirit Airlines route from Essendon to Merimbula until early this year when flights became erratic and Free Spirit was given notice to vacate Essendon Airport.

Sharp operates services to King and Flinders Islands as well as Warrnambool from Essendon, and given the experience with Free Spirit is well placed to understand the market for flights between Essendon and Merimbula.

A Melbourne aviation source said that last summer’s passenger numbers between Melbourne and Merimbula on Free Spirit was sufficient to start making Regional Express take notice.

The EastWest plan also includes Griffith. 

“Currently we are completing projects aimed at commencing RPT services between Melbourne-Essendon Airport and Merimbula Airport and Griffith Airport,” the company said.

However, neither Merimbula nor Griffith Airport managers have had any discussions with the company at this stage. 

Manager at Griffith Bob Campbell it would be “excellent if they can get it up and running” as they had Rex servicing the Griffith to Sydney route.

Bega Valley Shire mayor Kristy McBain said she was aware that Essendon Airport CEO Chris Cowan had met with council’s general manager Leanne Barnes and had discussed the potential for another airline to come into Merimbula.

Cr Kristy McBain said Mr Cowan was keen to see the link between Essendon and Merimbula retained and there was a further meeting in coming weeks.