LIMESTONE Coast Labor politician Clare Scriven has called on the State Government to throw an embattled regional carrier a financial lifeline to secure services at Mount Gambier Regional Airport.
Legislative Council member Clare Scriven’s comments come as Regional Express (REX) calls for financial help from all tiers of government.
This includes a proposed partnership agreement with councils that own and operate commercial airfields.
Grant District Council held a confidential meeting regarding the request from Rex on Wednesday night.
No details were available from council late yesterday.
This meeting follows Rex issuing an extraordinary letter to councils across Australia.
In a statement, Ms Scriven said Queensland and Western Australia governments had agreed to underwrite flights.
“As Rex is the only airline flying to Mount Gambier, it is essential the South Australian government support our local community by committing to support for flights here,” Ms Scriven said.
“Minimum numbers of flights to and from Mount Gambier must be maintained, for medical and safety reasons.”
Ms Scriven said the region could not risk the cessation of medical services by specialists because they could not fly there.
“We also cannot have local residents abandoned because they are unable to drive the long distances to Adelaide,” the Labor heavyweight said.
“The need for regional flights is always important, but even more so when we need swift testing results about COVID-19.”
Last week, South Australian Transport Minister Stephan Knoll would not commit to funding the airline, saying regional airlines had been supported by waiving fuel excise, air service charges and regional security charges.
In an open letter penned to councils on Monday, the carrier said it intended to tap into both the federal and state government funding to provide a minimum of essential air services to communities.
“We call this the Stand-By-Me Partnership as we like to believe that we are standing by you in this period of national crisis,” the regional carrier said.
“Even after the crisis, regional air travel will not simply bounce back to pre-COVID-19 demand levels and your local community will continue to need Rex to stand by you and invest heavily over many years to fully restore your regional air services.”
According to the statement, Rex was committed to this process and the proposed partnership agreement was crafted fairly so the local council received an equitable amount of revenue to co-pay for airport infrastructure and services.
“At the same time the agreement seeks to ensure the local council will not be tempted to be avaricious in the future when Rex succeeds in fully restoring regional air services which in turn will enable regional communities to flourish again,” the carrier said.
“We expect you to convene an extraordinary council meeting to consider and approve the agreement by April 17, 2020. All Rex air services will be permanently ceased after that date in the absence of an agreement.”
Details of the proposed agreement have not been made public.