WIMMERA leaders believe an increasing number of fly-in fly-out workers could boost the business case for a passenger air service in the Wimmera.

Next month a group of University of Melbourne students will investigate the viability of a passenger air service between Horsham and Melbourne.

Wimmera Development Association chief executive Jo Bourke said the increasing number of fly-in fly-out, FIFO, workers would help attract air carriers to the region.

“FIFO workers from the Wimmera have to travel to Melbourne or Adelaide before they fly to the mines,” she said.

“We have all the facilities needed for a fly-in fly-out service in Horsham and Stawell.

“The students’ report will explore FIFO opportunities so we can canvass them to investors when trying to attract an air carrier.”

Mrs Bourke said she expected the number of FIFO workers to increase when Crocodile Gold’s Stawell Gold Mine ran out of gold within two years.

“Many of the mine’s 300 workers will pick up opportunities at mines across Australia, especially with Crocodile Gold’s prospects in the Northern Territory,” she said.

“We have a lot of mining expertise in the shire people from Stawell even went down to assist with the Beaconsfield Mine disaster in 2006.”

Northern Grampians Shire Council chief executive Justine Linley said business leaders would have to find a way for a FIFO and passenger service to complement each other.

“A FIFO service is a bit like a company bus, which might be hard to link to a passenger service,” she said.

“But this is an issue we can work through.

“FIFO potential is definitely a string to have to your bow when attracting an air service.”

Mrs Linley said council was keen to develop a relationship with mining companies to attract a FIFO service to the region.

“We need to look at this Wimmera wide and take into account aerodromes at Edenhope and Warracknabeal as well,” she said.

“Even if a FIFO service opened up at Stawell it would be only a 30-minute drive from Horsham compared with a three-hour drive to Melbourne.”

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