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Big Sky Express spreads its wings in the Clarence Valley

FLYING HIGH: First Officer Andrew Wright, left, Captain James Geitz, Captain James Dowland and First Officer Nick Gerathy
FLYING HIGH: First Officer Andrew Wright, left, Captain James Geitz, Captain James Dowland and First Officer Nick Gerathy

By EMMA CORNFORD

WHEN Macair withdrew from Grafton in July, it was the fourth airline to do so in an 18-month period.

So when Big Sky Express came to Grafton, some consumers were hesitant about the service and wondered how long it would stay.

But it seems most people are happy with the airline. Clarence Valley Council employee George Cowan said it was competitive and provided a convenient service for day travellers to Sydney.

"It's on time in and out of Sydney and while it's a small plane ... it certainly services needs from Grafton well," Mr Cowan said.

"The price is also reasonably competitive when you look at airlines in other places, especially when you can book in advance.

"Also the time is good because if you wanted to go to Sydney for a full day, to get a flight at the same time from Coffs, you'd have to leave at 4.30 in the morning, which is quite inconvenient."

And travellers such as Mr Cowan need not worry they will be left without an airline in the near future, with general manager Phillip Gerathy announcing plans to expand the airline and possibly purchase a larger, 34-seat plane.

"Our average passenger load is about 78 per cent (which is) above average and in the peak flights we're full," Mr Gerathy said.

"We've now formed a new company, called Big Sky Express North Coast, and the process now is to convert to the community-based airline which was always our intention."

Mr Gerathy said the next step was to come to Grafton and meet with businesses which had shown interest in becoming part of the airline.



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