A PROPOSAL by aviation carrier Regional Express to introduce a $129 one-way community fare has been described as a potential “major breakthrough” for the community.
The offer follows ground-breaking roundtable talks in Mount Gambier yesterday between regional stakeholders and the regional aviation giant, convened by Member for Barker Tony Pasin.
The milestone meeting coincided with a senate inquiry public hearing into regional airline services in Mount Gambier yesterday.
While a number of details are still to be brokered, Regional Express made the offer at the public hearing following the historic roundtable talks.
The proposed low-rate airfare is well below Regional Express’ current lowest Mount Gambier fare of $177 and may be made available on seats remaining to book the day before the flight and flights booked a month in advance.
It is understood the offer is dependent on Grant District Council reducing its $9.50 per ticket passenger head tax by $2 under a partnership arrangement.
Civic leaders hope the offer by Rex will end ongoing turbulence between the two parties and drive revitalised air services.
A buoyed Mr Sage said the agreement was dependent on elected members giving it the green light at council’s full meeting next Monday.
Mr Sage said Rex representatives had indicated they would send through the full details of the five-year agreement tomorrow.
“This is potentially a major breakthrough,” the Grant mayor said yesterday.
While he could not foreshadow the decision by council, he called for a fresh relationship between the airline and the community.
“It is time to put this public spat to bed,” Mr Sage told The Border Watch.
While the “devil was still in the detail”, he said it was vital the relationship between both parties moved forward.
“We all need to move forward and not look at the rear vision mirror,” Mr Sage said.
He said the potential agreement would mean cheaper flights, possibly more services and increasing passenger numbers.
“The expansion of the airport will also be a benefit for everyone – it will not only mean improvements to the runway, but also new terminal facilities.”
Mr Pasin said the meeting was a constructive discussion that outlined a pathway to lower airfares.
“This could be a game changer for air travel in and out of Mount Gambier, delivering the lower cost fares the community has been campaigning for over a very long time,” the Liberal backbencher said.
“I’m confident the solution proposed will lower the cost of flights and potentially lead to the reinstatement of services.
“The meeting could not have gone ahead without the cooperative approach from all parties.
“It was extremely beneficial to get all relevant stakeholders together in one room to discuss the issues and how we can come together to address them.”
He said the solution proposed was a partnership approach offering “community fares” to the Limestone Coast community similar to community fares offered by Rex at other regional centres across the country.
“The partnership will require an agreement between Grant District Council and Rex, which if agreed will result in lower fares and indeed it would mean last minute fares are the cheapest rather than the most expensive fares on offer,” Mr Pasin said.
He said increased passenger numbers taking advantage of the lower costs could then lead to a reinstatement of services.