Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Chances slim for Coast flights to Vegas

Matthew Killoran   |  12:01am January 2, 2013

Chances of direct flights between the Gold Coast and Las Vegas have taken a nose dive, with experts revealing that planes capable of landing at the Coast airport cannot safely make the 15-hour trip between the two cities.

Casino-loving mayor Tom Tate and deputy mayor Donna Gates last week met with Vegas officials for informal talks, which included the topic of direct flights between the two "sin cities".

No airlines have been linked to the discussions and no Australian cities have direct flights to Las Vegas. A stopover at Los Angeles or San Francisco is required.

Australian and International Pilots Association vice president captain Richard Woodward said the larger planes, such as jumbo jets, capable of the journey, were not able to land at the Gold Coast Airport, while smaller aircraft faced issues with making the distance.

"There's not many airlines that would do that (long a trip)," he said.

"It's not much further flying time than LA, but it's an amount.

"It would be another hour and that stretches the friendship with a lot of the aircraft."

He said while A380 aircraft could make the journey, they were unable to land at Gold Coast Airport.

Smaller planes that could land at the airport, such as B777s or A340s, could make the journey but would face difficulties.

"Inevitably, when you're coming back to Australia from the US there are headwinds, it takes longer," he said.

"Some airlines have to plan to find other ports on the way to refuel."

No ratepayer money was spent on the investigation, as Cr Tate and Cr Gates were on self-funded holidays when the meeting took place.

Cr Gates, who is acting mayor while Cr Tate is out of the country, yesterday played down the talks, despite previously saying direct flights would be a "huge boon" for the city.

"China is primarily the mayor's focus," she said.

"He's doing his utmost to develop relationships wherever he is, to result in a benefit to the city," Cr Gates said.

"The meeting was a very relaxed chat, it was not a negotiation."

Cr Gates said the talks were informal and there had been no technical information considered at the time.

"There's no supporting information at this stage," she said.

Gold Coast Airport boss Paul Donovan said he was not part of any of the discussions.

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