Agent takes flight in support of airport

A property consultant in the Whitsundays is running a marathon to raise $42,000 to help restart direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney to his local airport.

Brad Sobott, property consultant at PRDnationwide Whitsunday, hopes to raise the money to help the local community get back on its feet after a tough few years.

“We’re a tourist town,” he said. “And since the GFC numbers have declined obviously.”

Mr Sobott made the decision after making a bet with a co-worker.

“I had this property up for ages and so I said ‘I reckon I’d run a marathon if this ever comes through’. And sure enough, it did.”

Mr Sobott will use the money raised to try convincing the airlines to re-open direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to the Whitsundays, which he hopes will stimulate the local economy.

“We’ll hold up the money we raise and say ‘right Mr Airline, this is an incentive package if you re-establish this route. Use it for marketing to make people want to come to the Whitsundays'.

“I’m lucky to know the general manager from the Whitsunday Coast Airport [Proserpine]. He has a very close working relationship with the airlines and he’s utilising this run to re-emphasis the need, and want, for the route to be open.”

Since cyclone Yasi hit North Queensland in February last year, tourism rates have plummeted. But Mr Sobott said the real damage was done by the media.

“We came off unscathed from Yasi,” he said. “We had a few trees fallen over, but no structural damage. But we were roped in with places like Innisfail and Cardwell by the media and because of that, not many people came to visit.”

But despite the rough patch, the PRDnationwide Whitsunday franchise has been number one in the country based on sales results for five years straight. Mr Sobott said the great results are thanks to the great leadership and commitment from his principal.

“Making sure we are doing the basic things right. We’re really lucky, our principal Chris is a clever man and very experienced as well as Rob Taylor our CEO, both are very supporting and motivating. It all comes from the top down I guess.”

Some of the success might be linked to regional Queensland’s mining upsurge. Like most towns in the region, Brad’s office has seen a change.

“The Bowen Basin is only 45-50 minutes away, which has a lot of mining going on. We’re certainly seeing increased activity, but especially over the last couple of months.”

To support Brad’s cause when he runs his marathon on 10 June, log onto www.airport2airlie.net.au

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