STATE Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter has called for a fast-tracked response to reconnect Australia’s most isolated township to the mainland.
Commercial flights to and from Mornington Island have been closed since December 17 after damage to bitumen on the airport runway was discovered.
Mr Katter said hard decisions needed to be made to restore air services to Mornington Island.
“We have a situation which has left residents stranded on the island, or without access home during the busy holiday period for more than three weeks,” he said.
“I understand that recent wet weather has made the repairs process difficult, but there must be a swift decision made now that we know the full extent of the repair works required.”
“I will be pushing for Skytrans to service Mornington Island with a shuttle service to fill the void in the interim… I’ve been informed Skytrans is ready and willing to serve the route at any time.”
Mr Katter has discussed the issue with the Department of Transport and made it clear there was an obvious solution.
“Skytrans can immediately get passengers to Normanton to meet the normal Gulf route,” he said.
“The disruption of this service is hurting the livelihoods of people on Mornington Island, especially with school due back soon and many government agencies unable to reach the island.”
Repair works to the runway mean Rex Airlines won’t be allowed to service the route under new weight restrictions.
Charter planes and the Royal Flying Doctor Service will be the only aircrafts allowed to use the runway.
Mr Katter said he was disappointed to hear Mornington Shire Council weren’t invited to be deeply involved in discussions for a solution with Rex Airlines and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
“This is a vital service for the community so it goes without saying that the local council should be heavily involved in discussions,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter agreed with Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter that the bigger picture was exorbitant airfare costs in the region.
“I agree with the Federal Member for Kennedy that this year we have to confront the wider issue of outrageous airfare charges in and out of Mornington Island,” he said.