Flight cancellation rate high between Gladstone, Brisbane

Matt Kiehne, who is a regularly flyer in and out of Gladstone airport, sometimes flies to Rockhampton and drives to Gladstone to avoid delays.
Matt Kiehne, who is a regularly flyer in and out of Gladstone airport, sometimes flies to Rockhampton and drives to Gladstone to avoid delays. Brenda Strong

Frequent traveller flies into Rockhampton, drives to Gladstone

A DEPARTMENT of Transport report has found the flight path between Gladstone and Brisbane is one of the worst for cancellations in Australia.

About 33 flights between Gladstone and Brisbane were scrapped in January, prompting fears the new Gladstone Airport Corporation may not be up to the job.

That's 8.9% of all flights - compared to just 1.7% in January last year.

Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Gail Sellers said the airport corporation was responsible for the problem.

"The airport is run by the airport corporation and it is out of our hands," Cr Sellers said.

"They are disappointing results that will have an impact on the Gladstone region."

Cr Sellers said January's wild weather helped contribute to flight cancellations in the region.

But January's bad figures weren't a one-off. In November, 3.2% of flights from Brisbane to Gladstone were cancelled.

And across October and November, more than a third of flights from Brisbane to Gladstone were delayed.

"I am certain the carriers will be investigating the issue," Cr Sellers said.

Gladstone Airport has undergone a $65million upgrade over the past three years. Cr Sellers said the work had now been completed.

But a new instrument landing system is yet to arrive.

A QantasLink representative said Brisbane Airport traffic congestion also contributed to delays in regional airports.

"Bad weather, knock-on delays from other parts of the network and congestion at Brisbane Airport had an impact on departure and arrival times," the representative said.

According to News Ltd, more than 30% of flights to Brisbane from Gladstone, Mackay, Proserpine and Rockhampton landed later than scheduled in January.

Brisbane Airport Corporation's claims that regional airports and airlines had much of the responsibility for poor time performance on those routes were disputed by Regional Aviation Association of Australia chief executive Paul Tyrrell.

"The delay is at the Brisbane end, not the regional airports," he said.

Virgin Australia said delays were caused by poor weather in Gladstone in January.

Gladstone Regional Airport CEO Phillip Cash was unavailable for comment.

How often are you affected by airport delays?

This poll ended on 13 April 2013.

Nearly every time I fly - 30%

Sometimes. It's not usually too bad - 43%

Rarely. Must be one of the lucky ones - 20%

It's gotten so bad it'd be faster to ride a bike - 4%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Rockhampton shortcut for Gladstone frequent flyer

BRISBANE-based regional manager Matt Kiehne has to travel to and from Gladstone every month - and he has found that, often, it's easier to fly to Rockhampton and drive from there.

"Flights do get delayed sometimes... but they are (only) cancelled if it's to do with weather," he said.

While Mr Kiehne said he generally didn't have issues, he did run into problems if he had to make a last-minute trip.

"I do find it hard to get flights at the right times," he said. "If I want an early flight I need to book it weeks in advance."

Mr Kiehne often chooses to fly into Rockhampton instead and drive to Gladstone.

"I find it easier," he said. "They have more services and at better times.

"And the accommodation in Gladstone, well don't get me started on that one."

But according to the frequent flyer who travels all along the east coast, Gladstone actually fares well compared to some other regional airports.

Topics:  brisbane airport department of transport and main roads gladstone airport gladstone region plane

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