Friday, 22 September 2023
PASSENGER air services in and out of Armidale Regional Airport look set to take a hit following today’s announcement by Regional Express (REX) Airlines that it will ‘suspend’ its services from the end of next month.
In a pre-emptive strike Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall contacted Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson today to seek an undertaking that the QantasLink fight capacity will be stepped up and fares maintained at current levels on the Armidale to Sydney route.
Mr Marshall said REX had given an undertaking it would recommence the Armidale to Sydney service in March next year.
“I am bitterly disappointed by this news, especially given the enormous amount of support REX has consistently received from Armidale Regional Council and the travelling public of our region over almost a decade,” Mr Marshall said.
“Having two airlines servicing the Armidale to Sydney route on a daily basis for almost 10 years has been a huge success and resulted in cheaper fares and many more flight options for people across the district than most regional centres in NSW.
“I’ll be working with Armidale Regional Council over the coming months to facilitate the resumption of REX services and to ensure the airline makes good on its word to return to Armidale in March next year.”
Mr Marshall said REX currently operated 23 one-way flights per week (12 from Armidale and 11 from Sydney) and the suspension would leave many passengers without access to a timely and affordable service.
“Demand on this major regional route is such that the 46 one-way flights per week that QantasLink provides (24 from Armidale and 22 from Sydney) will, in my opinion, be insufficient to meet passenger demand,” he said.
“That’s why I have requested the new CEO increase passenger capacity on existing flights or add additional flights, to meet the expected demand.”
Mr Marshall is also concerned that reverting to a monopoly service on the Armidale to Sydney route will see airfares soar to the pre-REX levels.
“It is well known that when QantasLink previously held a monopoly on this route we were faced with unreasonably high fares, in some cases up to $1,200 return,” Mr Marshall said.
“I made it crystal clear to Qantas that price gouging will not be tolerated and that the community expects the usual fares and the Red-e deal special fares to remain at current levels.
“Access to these flights for people across our region are vital and just because one carrier leaves, does not give licence to the one remaining to make flying to Sydney unaffordable again.
“I am hopeful that the temporary departure of REX from this region will be seen by Qantas as an opportunity to continue that service and strengthen its support in the community.”