Thousands sign petition after Tigerair drops Coffs
A PETITION has already attracted thousands of signatures in the wake of Tigerair's announcement that it will no longer service the Coffs Coast region in just two months time.
The petition, which has been signed more than 3,000 times since it launched Thursday, has been started by local resident and former business owner Jacquie Houlden.
Ms Houlden said her motivation for starting the petition was to show Tigerair that its Melbourne to Coffs Harbour route has been vital for the region.
"I think it's important Tigerair and Virgin Australia know these decisions have an impact on the local community. I know they're cancelling a number of routes but this one is particularly special to the region, it's the only one connecting Coffs Harbour to Melbourne.
"A lot of people who have signed have said they have family living down there, or have children down there studying."
Tigerair announced last week it will end its Melbourne and Sydney services from Coffs Harbour on April 27, the region being just one affected by Virgin Australia's $99 million loss in the first half of the financial year.
Other routes to be cut include Sydney to Cairns and Hobart to the Gold Coast.
Through the petition, Ms Houlden is calling for the airline to instead reach a compromise with Coffs Harbour, such as offering less flights per week or slightly increasing prices.
She's been handing out flyers at Coffs Harbour Airport, directing people to the online petition.
"Many were devastated to learn they would no longer be able to travel on the Melbourne route.
"I know these decisions are based on the economy, but this area has recently been hit by fires and floods and decisions like these have huge flow on effects.
"Even having one or two flights a week would be brilliant rather than cutting the services as a whole."
As a former business owner, Ms Houlden said the direct flights had been beneficial in not only getting staff in and out of the region for work, but also enticed new staff to work in the region.
The sentiment has also been echoed in a statement from the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce that also pushed locals to sign the petition.
The Chamber implored Tigerair and Virgin to "at least" reinstate the Coffs Harbour to Melbourne route.
"Your decisions will have a significant negative impact on the local community not just from families that can't now travel utilising affordable air services to maintain contact, but from the inbound tourism numbers that will devastate local businesses and tourism operators, to the cost-effective staff travel options for business to events and training."
Coffs Harbour City Council has said it is discussing other options with its airline partners Qantas and Virgin Australia, particularly for a direct service to Melbourne.