Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons at announcement of Rex returning to Grafton airport.
Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons at announcement of Rex returning to Grafton airport.

REXIT 2.0: Council’s call out for airport help

Clarence Valley Council will seek to join forces with their Lismore counterparts to plead for a years more Federal government funding to keep a passenger service to their airports.

The approach comes after Regional Express pulled out of both airports, seeking to take on Qantas across a metropolitan route, and moving their North Coast service to Coffs Harbour, also in competition to Qantas.

>>> RELATED: Rex leaves Grafton high and dry again

In a mayoral minute to Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Jim Simmons asked council to write to Deputy Prime Minister and Page MP Kevin Hogan seeking their support and request the federal government extend their financial support for regional airline services via current funding arrangements for another twelve months.

A REX flight arrives at Grafton airport.
A REX flight arrives at Grafton airport.

The second part of the motion authorised general manager Ashley Lindsay to begin negotiations urgently with Lismore Council to develop proposal to replace an airline service for the Sydney Grafton Lismore and return route.

Clarence Valley airport to fly again: Grafton's airport will fly again after Rex airlines make the decision to recommence flights
Clarence Valley airport to fly again: Grafton's airport will fly again after Rex airlines make the decision to recommence flights

Councillors supported the motion unanimously, but some councillors warned they needed to be prepared for the airport to continue life without a regular passenger service, suggesting further exploration of emergency services or freight hubs.

In response to questions from The Daily Examiner, a spokeswoman for deputy prime minister Michael McCormack made no comment on Rex’s pullout, and spoke of what they had done in the past, rather than pledge support for the future.

REX (regional express) will start selling flights between Sydney and Melbourne, offering customers full service at discount prices. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
REX (regional express) will start selling flights between Sydney and Melbourne, offering customers full service at discount prices. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

“While the operation of individual routes is a commercial decision for airlines, the Australian Government has taken decisive action to ensure a viable and competitive aviation sector into the future,” she said.

“The Australian Government’s Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program continues to run until the end of March and the Government is monitoring the situation. RANS has been invaluable, providing 12 months of crisis support to help maintain flights to Grafton.”

The spokeswoman for the deputy prime minister said the government expected the states to work with airlines to ensure the needs of their local communities are considered, particularly with inter and intrastate routes.

“The Government wants a viable and competitive airline industry, which is why we are developing a Five-Year Plan to strengthen and grow the Australian aviation sector beyond COVID-19,” she said.

“Planes in the air mean jobs on the ground.”