A statement from managing director Simon Wild said Skytrans had made the decision to cease trading, effective immediately, and to make all staff redundant.

Wild said he would be seeking options for the business but added, “to be clear, it does not include the recommencement of flights in the short to medium term”.

“This is not only a sad day for the business, but more importantly for our staff and indeed the passengers and communities of North Queensland,” he said.

The airline said workers had already been paid entitlements amounting to over $4 million – $2m to 121 staff made redundant late November and early December, due to the loss of a large contract, and the remaining 67 staff were paid $2m in entitlements today.

Wild went on: “We are all well aware that the aviation market has been tough and we knew that it would get tougher with Skytrans in 2015.

“Since the loss of a large government contract we had been working on a business model that included focused services on the Cape routes utilising three aircraft,” he said, but adverse US and Australian dollar exchange rates had scuppered the plan.

Skytran also blamed competition on its Cape routes “with an inevitable price war –a war where the only winner would be the airline with the deepest pockets”.

The company apologised that some passengers will have been caught unaware by the closure and will have had their travel plans interrupted.

However, it said, this wee, is the lightest travel week of the year – meaning that fewer people will have been affected than in any other week of the year.

“Further we do believe other airlines may be interested in expanding their operations throughout the Cape and we would hope that would be able to bring forward their plans so as to meet this immediate need,” Wild said.

“We have spoken with both the State Government and other airlines to discuss the potential for them to provide aircraft for stranded passengers. We will notify any positive outcome via the Skytrans website.”

Affected passengers are bveing advised to go to the website www.skytrans.com.au for a information.