ORANGE councillors asking Regional Express airline to pay an increase of 45 cents head tax when they are already paying the highest head tax of their network is making fares so expensive a lot of average people can’t afford the service.
They either drive to Bathurst, Parkes or Dubbo to have cheaper fares or drive to Sydney. This can cost lives. But as roads improve more people will do this and Rex and Orange council will lose money.
Years ago, Orange City Council was given the Orange airport and a sum of money to bring it up to the standard required by the government, as the airport was considered to be a significant asset for the growth and development of Orange city. Bringing industry, medical specialists, and big business of all types to Orange would benefit all Orange and district people, not just those who fly.
All the councils I know in other areas have given all the assistance to the regional operator that they could justify.
The mayor of Wagga Wagga asked Hazeltons on many occasions to attend meetings to ask if Wagga council could do anything to assist Hazelton Airlines, as they considered a good airline was a great asset to Wagga.
This has apparently followed on with Rex. Rex has built a huge pilot training facility at Wagga at a cost of over $20 million to train pilots for the Saab aircraft and others. It is a magnificent training facility considered first class by all who have seen it.
Also, with Wagga council and Rex working together they have been able to have the government install an instrument-landing service at Wagga to assist planes landing in bad weather.
Rex has gone through hard times and has had major airlines take a large percentage of their pilots. I know that Virgin Airlines have taken in excess of 50 of the pilots from Hazeltons that were working for Rex.
Running an airline is not easy as a lot of people seem to think. So much can affect the schedule - low cloud and fog, crew members can be sick at short notice, the aircraft is a mechanical and electronic piece of equipment that can have failures without warning but this is rare if they are serviced regularly as Rex aircraft are. They have a magnificent engineering facility at Wagga.
I would like to quote some of the latest statistics from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport from June 2012, however there has been the same good performance for years: Qantas Link departures on time 70.7 per cent, cancellations 3.7 per cent; Regional Express departures on time 84.8 per cent, cancellations .8 per cent.
Rex has had some of the better performance figures of all regional operators for some time now. This is a great credit to Rex.
I believe Rex is a great airline operating great aircraft in the Saab 340 B.
Orange council should do everything in its power to assist Rex by lowering overheads, so Rex can give the people of Orange fares the average person can use.
Council should be told Saab aircraft only requires a runway width of 18 metres, not a great expensive runway.
If council wish to expand the airport terminal and the runway, this is not required by Rex, but charter operators who are using larger aircraft.
Rex has recently introduced an extra flight to the Orange-Sydney route on weekdays, taking the number of flights per day to five. That would take (annual) head tax to well over $1 million, a ridiculous figure.
I feel the people of Orange should know what council is trying to do with Rex.