Regional Express (Rex) may be cutting flights to Sydney from Lismore Airport. Photo: Marc Stapelberg
Regional Express (Rex) may be cutting flights to Sydney from Lismore Airport. Photo: Marc Stapelberg

Airport to be hit by ‘brutal but clinical’ flight cuts

THE SOLE airline operating out of Lismore Airport is due to make “brutal but clinical” cuts in upcoming days in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Regional Express (Rex) typically charters five return flights between Lismore and Sydney per day.

In a public statement Rex announced they expect about 40 per cent of capacity will be taken out with some routes being cut altogether.

On Wednesday The Northern Star asked Rex if flights between Lismore and Sydney will be impacted by cuts.

“With regards to schedule changes, cuts will be brutal but clinical, and Rex will announce cuts in the next few days,” a Rex spokesman said.

The cuts will come in a bid to save the airline from closing down indefinitely.

In an open letter on Monday Rex warned the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack that Regional carriers would not be able to survive more than six months without assistance with the weaker operators having only weeks of reserves.

Following Rex’s public plea, the government announced a relief package on Tuesday that responded to most of the requests, including waiving of air services Australia charges (Air Traffic Control), fuel excise and regional aviation security charges, backdated to February 1.

“This is a great start, and we thank the Deputy Prime Minister for hearing Rex’s voice and understanding that these measures are crucial to give Rex and all regional carriers a fighting chance to stay afloat long enough,” Rex Executive Chairman Lim Kim Hai said.

“Rex is disappointed that the package does not include a sovereign guarantee of new loans taken up by regional carriers to tide them through the period of extreme negative cash flow until normalcy returns and we are hopeful that this will be adopted in a second stage of assistance.

“Rex and all Australian carriers owe the Morrison government a huge debt of gratitude for providing this precious lifeline without which all regional carriers, and we believe some domestic ones too, will go into administration.”