FALSE START: Flights from Hervey Bay to Melbourne delayed
JUST one week out from launching Hervey Bay's first direct flight to Melbourne, airline Jetgo has confirmed it is canning the long awaited service.
All flights booked for the next three months will be cancelled and customers refunded.
Jetgo's Managing Director Paul Bredereck said the company had no choice but to make the tough decision after the new service failed to attract enough bookings to make the route sustainable through the winter months.
He said the company was looking at the unprecedented set back as a "delayed start" and planned to try again in Spring.
"The response has been softer than expected," Mr Bredereck said.
"We're holding off until the beginning of October."
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Mr Bredereck believes bookings will increase later in the year dates, in-line with Christmas and other events.
"The majority of people we expect to use the service have family connections with Melbourne," he said.
"They'll want to book around the spring racing carnival time, and for the holidays.
"But people travelling here for the whale season would have already made prior travel arrangements, so there's no real demand now."
Information on the planned new flight dates went live today at jetgo.com.
Mr Bredereck said those who bought a ticket for a flight prior to the new start date would receive a refund.
Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Holebrook said a strong marketing campaign was needed in Melbourne to support the service.
"We've come so close with this we need to really concentrate on getting the message out," Ms Holebrook said
"We need to really work hard to prove that this service will work for the Fraser Coast.
"We will work together, we will fight to keep the flights here."