Related: Bendigo's airport talks take-off
Council says it is in negotiations with a number of regional airlines as it looks to land a passenger service to Bendigo by February.
But the airlines themselves do not appear overly enthusiastic by the proposal – publicly at least – with several saying they were not currently considering flying to Bendigo, or ruling it out entirely.
Qantas, Virgin, Regional Express (Rex) and FlyPelican all said they had no plans to fly to Bendigo.
JetGo managing director Paul Bredereck said his company had looked “very closely at Bendigo and its new runway”, but was yet to be convinced by the city’s business case.
“Due to its relatively close proximity to Tullamarine, which has very cheap Jetstar and Tigerair flights, we feel it would be challenging to achieve the necessary fares for the higher seat costs of the smaller regional aircraft,” Mr Bredereck said.
“In the longer term we are not ruling anything in or out, but there needs to be a lot more work done to determine the viability of air services to and from Bendigo, however, we will keep the door open with council.”
A Sharp Airlines spokesperson also raised concerns about the new airport’s business case.
“At the moment, Bendigo is not in our foreseeable future plans, given its proximity to Melbourne,” the spokesperson said.
“With the V/Line train services … there’s just not the demand.”
However, Aero Australia editor Stewart Wilson said it wasn’t unusual for airline companies to hold their cards close to their chests during negotiations to secure contracts at new destinations.
“That’s not surprising at all – it’s all part of the negotiation process,” Mr Wilson said.
“And there could be all sorts of things in commercial confidence at the moment.”
High profile members of Bendigo’s business community have said their companies need a passenger service is critical to their future expansion.
But Mr Wilson said that, regardless of the city’s need for a passenger service, airline companies would only consider one factor before signing up to a new destination.
“It depends on whether they think it will be profitable – that’s all it comes down to now,” he said. “Since deregulation, it’s all comes down to the accountants.”
The airports’ $15 million upgraded runway is scheduled to be operational by February.