REX plane takes off at Ballina Airport.
REX plane takes off at Ballina Airport.

Airline calls for help as virus impacts industry

THE Regional Express Group (Rex) has sent a plea to the National Party as it comes to grips with the financial repercussions of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Page MP Kevin Hogan has empathised with Rex amid the unfolding crisis.

“I understand the pressure they are under,” Mr Hogan said.

“Aviation especially has been affected.

“I am talking to the minister about possible further stimulus.”

In an open letter Rex has urged Nationals leader Michael McCormack to dump the fuel levy, all air services charges and all passenger and baggage security charges at airports for one year.

“Rex is calling on the leader of the National Party to immediately take vigorous, swift and unprecedented actions to ensure that regional aviation, and with that rural and regional communities, is not completely and irreversibly destroyed,” CEO Neville Howell said.

Mr Howell painted a bleak picture of the outlook for airlines due to COVID-19, conservatively predicting a 25 per cent reduction in passengers over the next six months.

“Australia will surely not be spared the carnage and Australian regional carriers will be the first to be impacted due to their limited financial resources,” he said.

Rex is a crucial carrier on the Northern Rivers, flying between Lismore and Sydney, and Ballina and Sydney.

Recently Rex was forced to pull its flights from Ballina airport, where the airline has been operating for 25 years, due to the airport’s introduction of Qantaslink flights. Its last flight to Sydney will depart on March 27.