Funds to keep airlines flying

REGIONAL Express (Rex) will be kept in the sky following a $198m Federal Government announcement, but have yet to make a decision on whether services will resume in Mount Gambier to Adelaide.

The Coalition Government’s Regional Air Network Assistance Package will help commercial regional airlines meet standing costs for safety function, regulatory compliance and minimum operational capability.

Last week, Rex announced it would suspend all passenger air services with the exception of Queensland as of April 6 as a result of the worsening coronavirus.

The company praised the Federal Government’s announcement – which brings the total air service funding to $1b – and said the package would ensure “all previously sustainable regional operators will be able to spring back into business if the crisis dies down within the next six months”.

Mr Sharp said the company would present its new national network schedule constructed based on passenger numbers, Federal Government criteria for access to the assistance package and “State Government priorities for states where the State Government has provided assistance”.

He said the schedule will also be based on “exit from some routes where there has been no or inadequate support from local government (councils), thereby making the route non-viable”.

But Rex were unable to confirm whether it would safeguard Mount Gambier services, with the company’s media spokesperson saying further decisions were still being made.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said air services were needed more than more than ever to connect the region to freight, medical testing, supplies and essential personnel.

“I understand, as does everyone who lives in the (region) how important regular regional airline passenger transport is and that is why I have been working closely with my colleagues to establish this support,” he said.

“I note Rex has welcomed it, I hope it means the service continues to operate in (the city), albeit like much in our economy at the moment, with altered arrangements.

“It is critical for our freight, for health services and necessary passenger movements at this difficult time.

“It is also critical we maintain this service so once we get to the other side, we are in a position to recover … as quickly as possible.”

Yesterday, Rex announced it would shut down all Queensland services indefinitely as a result of cash flow and “no immediate prospect of a workable solution from the Queensland State Government.”