A LOCAL consortium wants to create an airline in Bendigo.
Gold Air Bendigo would run business flights to and from Melbourne, and possibly Canberra, Adelaide and Mildura.
If the long-awaited runway expansion was to go ahead, the service could operate to Sydney, Brisbane, Coolangatta and Hobart.
Neil Hansford, who is looking into the idea on behalf of the consortium, said it was economically viable.
“The trouble is people have always looked at what’s good for people who want to leave Bendigo to travel,” he said.
“No one has looked at the difficultly of people coming to sell or buy.
“That means they drive, or they don’t come at all.”
Mr Hansford said it was difficult for people to do business in Bendigo without a plane service.
“If you lived in Sydney, you’d fly to Tullamarine, go back to Southern Cross Station and then go to Bendigo by train,” he said.
“You would have spent nearly four hours getting from Sydney to Bendigo. If you could fly it would probably take about an hour to an hour-and-a-half.”
Mr Hansford said the service could start mid-2013, subject to negotiations. The flights would be run using a 19-seat BAE Jetsteam and a 29- or 30-seat plane if the runway expanded, and the Bendigo to Melbourne route would cost between $130 and $180 one way.
“It’s staggering that cities the size of Bendigo and Ballarat don’t have services to connect people to and from,” Mr Hansford said.
“People are conditioned for decades to drive. It has limited Bendigo’s development.
“People in head offices, or investors, they’re not conditioned to fly to Melbourne then rent a car to drive to Bendigo.”
Mr Hansford said the project had been in the works for about a year.
“The numbers of the potential fares suggest it is viable,” he said.