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Mount Hotham Airport - History / Future

Discussion in 'Hotham & Dinner Plain' started by Snow_Toast, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. Snow_Toast

    Snow_Toast Hard Yards

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    Hi Team, Wondering if anyone has any inside running on Qantaslink returning to Hotham airport. I know with the current climate it is not happening anytime soon. Hoping someone has some inside running on previous attempts Qantaslink had and what ultimately lead to its demise. I assume patronage/viability but wondering if there were other factors and if the circumstances were right again if this might make a return.

    Last winter stayed at DP and loved it but the 12 hours drive from Adelaide each way leaves you shattered and not a great use of 2 days. If i could bounce through Melbourne / Sydney to Mount Hotham in 4 hours makes long weekend getaways a lot more appealing.

    Very likely dreaming for a return but would be interested if someone knows more about the operations.

    Cheers guys Tim
     
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  2. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm not sure whether this applies to hotham, but services seemed to stop at the same approx time as lots of other services. in most cases it was not that a service was unprofitable, it just wasn't as profitable as using the plane and crew on another route
     
  3. Boodwah

    Boodwah One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Suggest you suss out group charter.
    It’s a fabulous airport, mostly underutilized bc of costs of flying.
    Have a friend at DP who flys an amphibious UL, takes off on water from in front of his house at Williamstown, there in under 2 hours.
     
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  4. N0frilz

    N0frilz Addicted

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    The airport still operates just no major players fly in/out.

    There's a charter company from Melbourne that fly Melb to Hotham on demand.
     
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  5. Timmossy

    Timmossy One of Us

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    Built in about 1998. Have a photo somewhere of me sipping champagne during its opening on season opening weekend.

    Was built by the ski lift company (BMF/BM something or other it was at the time), however think is currently managed by the RMB. Maybe someone here can confirm.

    Only Dash 8’s were ever flown in there but is big enough for larger aircraft.

    Opened with flights from Melbourne, Brisbane (via Newcastle?) and Sydney. Melbourne was stopped within a season or 2. Flights were not timed for weekenders but people who wanted a 5 or 7 day stays. Ie. the Friday flights left at midday, not 6pm after work.

    Qantas flights stopped for a season or 2 around the GFC, but made a return for a few years after that and then that was it. The only time I got a Qantas flight out of there was about 2010. MTH to SYD to BKK. Was comical checking in and getting a boarding pass through to Thailand.

    So I’m guessing Qantas serviced it for about 12-15 seasons.
     
  6. Chaeron

    Chaeron A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Usage likely to follow the economic cycle - only truly viable in boom times...but a key resource for fire management etc.
     
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  7. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Weren't the dash flights subsidised? (Like many regional routes)
     
  8. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ok i may need to realign my residential choices
     
  9. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Get yourself a Cessna for the commute into Sydney. Plenty of gates to park it at Sydney. LOL
     
  10. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Can't live in Sydney and afford a (good enough) Cessna!
    I learnt in ULs so always interested
     
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  11. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    What about living in DP?
     
  12. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not sure its us, full time.
     
  13. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Fair call. an easy place to go a little nuts.
     
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  14. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think a lot of it had to do with skiing upper management at Qantas. Direct flights to Sapporo around a similar era IIRC.

    Margaret Jackson’s husband Roger Donazzan was very involved with Niseko, same as Colin Hackworth who was ex-Hotham GM.
     
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  15. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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  16. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    The airport at Flour Bag Plain was an interesting experiment. Bear in mind it was built when Hotham (and I think Dinner Plain as well) were owned by a Gold Coast real estate developer.

    So yes, it was built to attract more skiers to Hotham, but I suspect the main reason it was built is that the owners were observing small airports at ski resorts in North America and the way they stimulated demand for properties at the ski resorts they served. I reckon it's no coincidence that DP had a new subdivision of housing blocks released around that time.

    However it turned out that we don't have enough skiing mega-rich for the airport to attract many small corporate planes, nor are a lot of skiers in the upper-middle income bracket prepared to fork out for a commercial flight on a Dash 8 / ATR sized turbo-prop, when they can just jump in their car and drive for a few hours at a much lower cost.

    So the airport is probably a commercial failure in the sense that I doubt it generated enough revenue to pay for building and operational costs from landing fees, increased business at Hotham and extra sales of real estate. But it's a nice asset to have and continues to attract a modest level of tourism income to the area.
     
  17. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    There’s a billionaire and a few hundred-illionaires who just drive to Buller. And said billionaire is famous for helicoptering around the place.
     
  18. Endless_Winter

    Endless_Winter One of Us

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    Correct on the first part (RMB manages airport) and not really on the 2nd. Fine for a dash 8 / turboprops (obviously), not so much for commercial passenger jets. For example, Hamilton island is one of the shorter airstrips 737s in Australia operate to, at around 1700m long. Wellington in NZ, for reference, is around 1800m+. Queenstown Runway is 1800m long and 1100 feet high. Hotham is less than 1500m and also 4000+ feet above sea level.

    I’d be rather surprised if qantas link or any airline offers regular flights to Mt Hotham ever again, it’s just not commercially viable to my knowledge.
     
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  19. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well it could probably accept Airbus A220s, the Embraer E-jet series and possibly, maybe, even A319s. It depends on how much longer a runway at that altitude needs to be. By comparison, the sea level London City Airport has a runway that is under 50 metres longer and it receives the Speedbird One flight from New York.

    But I agree, as much as we would love to see scheduled flights return to Mt Hotham, I doubt it will ever happen. :(
     
  20. Apresski

    Apresski Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    BCR, Ron Bassett, died a couple of years ago
    http://www.daniellegreen.com.au/parliament/ron-bassett/
     
  21. Timmossy

    Timmossy One of Us

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    Yeah that’s as I recall, good for some Embraers.

    A few years back the RMB tried to throw a levy onto the stakeholders for the running of the airport. This was quickly squashed due to the little return it provides. Club lodges which still make up the majority of beds on the mountain couldn’t care for the thing.

    The millionaires go to Mt Buller because it’s Mt Buller and you’re not making it in life if you don’t have a house in Sorrento or an apartment at Mt Buller.
     
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  22. Snow_Toast

    Snow_Toast Hard Yards

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    Yes .. that's right .. i remember the Qantas Ski holidays to Japan ... sounds like the strongest factor was this type of support for the regular Qantaslink service. Thanks for jogging my memory on this.
     
  23. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Jets require a much higher level of security screening as well. Making it even more costly.
     
  24. Snow_Toast

    Snow_Toast Hard Yards

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    I remember it was a Dash 8 - 200 with around 36 seats or something ... I always remember thinking about all the ski gear stowed in the tiny plane and where it all ended up and wondering how it got off the ground. I notice REX still fly to Cooma near the snowies in NSW .. shame REX couldn't step in and do a seasonal service.

    Dreams i know .. part of the pain of living in SA
     
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  25. Minion

    Minion Hard Yards

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    The airport is actually managed by MHSC and is within the Alpine Shire not the RMB. But you are correct a longer runway would open the airport up to larger aircraft making it more viable.
     
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