DUBBO Council may be locked in debate about the cost of security screening at its airport, but such security measures are still a long way off for other regional airports in the central west.
The introduction of the new 74-seat QantasLink Q400 to Dubbo Airport means upgrades, including the security screening of passengers boarding the larger aircraft, are legally required.
On Monday night Dubbo councillors voted in unison for both QantasLink and Regional Express (Rex), and subsequently their passengers, to foot the bill for the new security screening.
Because of the size of aircraft using airports at Orange and Bathurst there are no plans to introduce extra security at those sites.
“Orange City Council complies with all government requirements for airport security,” Orange City Council spokesman Allan Reeder said.
“We do not need to introduce security screening as of yet because we only have smaller sized aircrafts.”
It is a similar story for Bathurst Airport.
Bathurst Regional Council general manager David Sherley said council had no plans to change security measures at the airport.
“We do not have the larger aircraft that Dubbo does, so we have no need for that higher level of security,” he said.
This is welcome relief for Rex, which will be slugged for the cost of security screening at Dubbo because a competitor has introduced a larger aircraft.
Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said he had hoped Dubbo’s leaders would not pass a resolution to impose airport security screening charges on Rex.
“It is unreasonable, not fair and they’ve made a very serious mistake,” he said.
The deputy chairman said the company would defy the council and not pay a single cent.
“They can do what they like but we will do what the law requires - not to pay the security screening charges,” he said.
What plays out in the next few weeks will be of interest to both Orange and Bathurst councils as they look towards the future of their airports.
Mr Reeder said council was keeping security upgrades in mind in the final design plans for the new airport terminal in Orange.
“The new terminal will last for the next 30 to 40 years, so we are leaving extra space available for screening and other security measures so that as the aircraft expand, we can comply with government regulations and meet the demands of the airport,” he said.
Mr Sherley said that if operations at Bathurst Airport were to alter, security measures would be reviewed in discussion with the public to meet government regulations.
He said council was developing an aerodrome master plan for the airport, which will address issues of infrastructure and airport usage levels and be released towards the middle or end of the year.