The Government of the south-eastern Australian state of Victoria says it has partnered the Warrnambool and Glenelg councils in providing funding to Sharp Airlines (SH, Hamilton, VI) to keep flights between Melbourne Essendon, Warrnambool and Portland, VI operational for another six months.

After close to thirty years of operation, Sharp Airlines was due to conclude the route on Friday, January 11, citing poor passenger and cargo demand. Had it withdrawn, it would have left Warrnambol and Portland without scheduled passenger services.

As such, the Victorian government said it had now joined with local governments in providing funding support to Sharp Airlines for six months and will work with the airline, Glenelg Shire Council, Warrnambool City Council, regional tourism bodies, and industry to increase passenger numbers. The quantity of finance availed was not disclosed.

"These agencies will work together to explore new flight options, accommodation and tour packages to increase flight sales to attractions such as the Twelve Apostles, Tower Hill, Budj Bim, and Cape Bridgewater," it said.

The government’s assistance guarantees the 2x daily weekday and Sunday services will now continue until July.

Sharp Airlines also connects Melbourne Essendon with King Island and Flinders Island, as well as Burnie and Launceston in Tasmania. It operates a fleet of eleven Metroliners and four Cessna (twin turboprop) 441s.