On  a recent visit to Sydney I became acutely aware as to how difficult it is to get back to Tasmania. That was in early April. So in checking the Jetstar timetable I note that there are 2 direct flights to Launceston each day. One goes at 7:20am and the other goes at 5:25pm.  With Virgin airlines there is only one direct flight per day and that leaves at 7:40am. I believe later in May Jetstar flights drop down to only one flight per day too and that is the 7:20am.

Ok , It is understandable that tourist traffic in winter would be expected to drop. But in early April the weather is usually good and day light hours are reasonable. Lots of reasons to come too as schools have holidays and the Easter weekend brings people over.

Where is this leading you may ask. Well I for one am very used to direct flights from
Sydney to Launceston. Yes there are more flights into Tasmania from Melbourne but for JetStar travellers coming from Sydney this can be a very irksome way of making a visit.  As nearly everyone would be aware you have to collect your bags unless you are only carry on and then go through security. Missing a connecting flight is more or less your responsibility if you only have cheap tickets and so on. Families with young children, older people often have this baggage problem and that can lead to their holidays escalating quickly into a nightmare. But worst of all is the extra time it takes up from just under 2 hours to nearly 4 hours ; more than doubling this part of the travel time. And worse of all Jetstar do not sell cheap tickets to Sydney via Melbourne. Virgin often do book on a point to  point basis as they recognise that they have fewer flights.

But the worse thing about it all is the time slots that both Jetstar and Virgin have allotted for direct flights. The below 8am means that most Sydney-siders just can’t get to the airport using public transport. For example the Jetstar flight leaving at 7:20am really means that you should be at the airport by 6:20am. To take a train from Epping or Blacktown you would have to board at 5:30am and from Katomba at 3:36am. Bus connections usually at this hour are non-existent as I found even when trying to get to the airport from one of the Sydney beach side suburbs. And connecting to early flights using Taxis can make the airfare look like one of the cheaper components in your travel expenses to Tassie.

So here is a situation where potentially many of our visitors come from are facing great difficulty getting here. According to the stats Victoria is the largest supplier of visitors to Tassie with N.S.W running up in second place. (401k versus 237k) . Sure you could make the argument that Victoria is closer. But the reality is the difference in fares for direct flights is not significant. The population base for both Sydney and Melbourne are about the same being just under 5 million. But if one considers the coastal corridor of Sydney which could be argued now goes from Wollongong to Newcastle and as far west as the Blue mountains potentially that Sydney  of the problem is that the airlines flight schedules are stopping many Sydney-siders from coming. I reason that the Tasmanian government could well spend a few moments analysing whether the bottlenecks that I am discussing are real and if so how they can be improved.

I look forward to hearing what my readers have to say.


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