Plenty of snow but no jets or turbo-props is the latest forecast for the ski fields this winter.

Qantaslink told its pilots last week that the snow season flights to the Mt Hotham strip are gone because too few pilots are left on its rosters.

So no scheduled Qantas snow flights from either Sydney or Melbourne to the Victorian Alps using the country’s highest air strip at 1295 metres.

REX has already put a big question mark over this year’s ski specials to Cooma for the Snowy Mountains for the same reason.

Both regional carriers have a similar policies of preferring to cut services rather than increase wages, which has seen their country networks shrink in recent months with more closures expected.

Virgin Blue has dropped hints that it is considering flying its smallest jet, the 78-seat Embraer 170 to Mt Hotham, but not this year, because it hasn’t enough of them in its fleet, and the alpine runway might need extending to allow high passenger loads on the return legs to the cities.

All of which could be academic if AirServices Australia continues to fail to keep the routes between Sydney and Melbourne under continuous and active air traffic control.

Air traffic control across Australia is routinely slipping into periods of third world status to the extent that Qantas, Emirates and Air New Zealand are among the carriers that have recently cancelled services or supported their pilots in refusing to use unacceptably compromised air space when AirServices has withdrawn the coverage it is supposed to provide.

Peter Fray

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