Plans to return air services to Cobar and other towns in the region are progressing with negotiations to commence between the Far North West Joint Organisation (FNWJO) and two NSW airlines.
Chairperson of the Far North West Joint Organisation and Mayor of Cobar Shire Council, Lilliane Brady OAM, last week announced tthe tender for the provision of air services to Bourke, Cobar, Walgett and/or Lightning Ridge has moved to the negotiation stage following a meeting of the FNWJO.
Cr Brady said the tender process drew out two strong air service providers and they look forward to identifying a final provider.
“In previously announcing the formation of the Far North West Joint Organisation, the Deputy Premier announced a share of $20 million as a subsidy for the provision of air services to the Far North West region,” Cr Brady said.
“The Joint Organisation has successfully worked in collaboration with officers from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet to bring the project to this point.
“The full funding for this project has been paid by the Government into the Joint Organisation’s bank account and earning interest as I speak,” she said.
The decision to proceed with negotiations follows a unanimous vote by the mayors of Bourke, Cobar and Walgett as representatives of the FNWJO board that neither supplier’s response to the tender was clearly more acceptable than the other.
Cr Brady said the importance of the provision of air services to the western area was a priority project for the FNWJO.
“Bourke and Walgett Shires have not had access to a regular passenger air service since 2008,” Cr Brady said.
“In the case of Cobar, it is 16 months since an air service was available to the shire and the impact on our communities of not having access to regular passenger air services, already isolated by distance, is significant.
“We are working on a solution and hope to have it soon,” Cr Brady said.