By: Fabian Cotter

BREAKING: A CONTRACT HAS BEEN SIGNED for Australian-owned SkyBus “to acquire” the local Redline ‘Tasmania’s own’ Hobart Airporter service, given increasing tourism demand on The Apple Isle, it’s been confirmed.

SkyBus could acquire its 10th airport service across Australia and New Zealand with this Hobart deal.

The service will run between Hobart CBD and Hobart Airport, as it has done under Redline’s stewardship since 1982, taking over from Ansett and TAA airline-run services.

SkyBus - with 40 years’ history in airport passenger transport - currently runs nine services from four airports in Australia and New Zealand and has entered into contractual arrangements to acquire the local service Airporter service, it’s stated. Subject to receiving appropriate airport and government approvals, SkyBus expects to launch this service sometime in July 2018, it’s claimed.

"Tourism into Hobart is growing every year and Hobart Airport is growing with future international flights on the drawing board," SkyBus director Michael Sewards said.

"We thank the Larissey family [Redline] for their assistance in making this transaction possible, and we look forward to now working with Hobart Airport and building and planning on the delivery of our service for the residents, business and tourism operators of Hobart.

"We believe SkyBus can deliver a modern airport bus service to and from Hobart Airport, with multiple stops in and out of the city.

"SkyBus provides affordability with superior service, offering our customers free Wi-Fi, luggage racks, reliable running times, as well as online, mobile and kiosk ticketing options."

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) is the peak body for Tasmania’s tourism industry. It is a not-for-profit organisation providing leadership for the industry and a "strong voice for Tasmanian tourism operators," it’s stated. TICT CEO Luke Martin said SkyBus will provide a national level of operation for the Hobart and Tasmanian market.

"For all consumers it will great to get on a SkyBus at Southern Cross station in Melbourne and arrive in central Hobart on the one SkyBus ticket," Martin said.

"SkyBus will provide a quality visitor experience and will completely change the perception of getting in and out of Hobart airport. SkyBus will provide great amenity through the quality of its buses and Wi-Fi for Hobart, which is a world-class city and world-class destination. I believe Tasmanians will embrace the new service."

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Hobart Airport CEO Sarah Renner said the announcement was a welcome addition to the services offered at Hobart Airport.

"Hobart Airport has gone through incredible growth in recent years, and the provision of this service can only enhance the visitor experience to the states capital," Renner said.

Sewards added that SkyBus is already a well-known brand in Tasmania, with 22 per cent of domestic passengers in Melbourne coming from the Island State.

"SkyBus is currently transporting 4 million people every year from Tullamarine and Avalon with ‘pax’ growth averaging 10 per cent every year. We are moving 1 million passengers in Auckland and plan to add four new services in the two countries as soon as the next few months."

Sewards says SkyBus has received excellent initial support from tourism and government authorities in its bid to gain a Tasmanian foothold.

"Our new Hobart Airport Express will be particularly focused on providing local residents with more choice and affordable transport for their airport journey. Our focus on customer experience, highly frequent departures and easy ticketing options will provide a competitive option to other more expensive taxi and ride sharing options available."

SkyBus received its third consecutive Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2018. SkyBus also won the Gold prize at the RACV Victorian Tourism Awards in both 2017 and 2016, it’s stated.

It operates services to Melbourne City, Southbank, St Kilda, Geelong, Werribee, Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula and the Gold Coast in Australia and Auckland in New Zealand.


"‘Tasmania’s own’ Redline" is the state’s largest private coach company operating regular routes between Tasmania’s four cities - Hobart, Launceston Devonport and Burnie - with connections to Smithton, as well as regular commuter services between Hobart, Sorell and Dodges Ferry, and between Launceston, Deloraine and Mole Creek, the company states.

The Airporter service saw city hotel shuttles operate from both Hobart and Launceston airports servicing all departures and meeting all arrivals.

With owner Michael Larissey's grandfather starting the company in 1929, it is arguably one of - if not the - oldest bus companies in Australia that still runs under its existing family name.

Larissey says the airport service's sale ties in with the company's strategic change of direction and new transport objectives to be met.

"Our business is getting a bit of a clean-up," Larissey said, speaking to ABC exclusively. "Thirty-odd years is a long time to run it [airport service] and I'm this side of 65," he added.

He says the service has been run "under all sorts of colours", but never under Redline livery. He says the service was labour intensive with high penalty rates, and - in particular for its Launceston airport service - it was affected by not enough volume [passengers] given the smaller planes that land there.

In Hobart the service was run more with contractors; it was still currently one year into an existing five-year contract at the time of the Skybus transfer. Previously, a contractor itself put in an unsuccessful bid with the airport to win the service, so when SkyBus approached Redline recently, the company was interested.

"It was a great service," Larissey said. "The people got dropped at the first hotel loved it, but the people getting off at the last hotel [on the route] would say it took too long," he explained.

Larissey says his company is evolving and has recently registered a new name - RedMet - with a view to expand through government metro bus business. 

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