Airline collapse has little impact on Rex

BRINDABELLA Airlines’ demise had little impact on passenger numbers flying in and out of Orange Airport, backing claims Regional Express (Rex) had not gained from taking back the monopoly over the Orange/Sydney route.

Brindabella ceased its Orange/Sydney service on December 1, less than a year after it started the rival service to Rex.

But a comparison of airport passenger figures from Orange City Council over the past six years suggest little impact was made on fluctuating patronage.

In January 2014, after Brindabella left Orange, 2956 passengers flew in and out of the airport, compared to the previous January when Rex and Brindabella carried 3505 passengers.

But figures over five years suggest the downturn was not due to Brindabella’s demise, with January airport patronage reaching a similar low point of 2961 in 2010 and a peak of 4030 in January 2012, both at times when Rex was the airport’s only airline.

Despite Rex management describing the situation for regional airlines as dire, the airline made a profit before tax of $5 million in the first half of fiscal 2014.

In Orange the airline also regained its monopoly over the Orange/Sydney route, when Brindabella went into receivership in December.

But the airline’s general manager Warrick Lodge said there had been little improvement.

“Brindabella Airlines did not carry many passengers and had many flight cancellations,” he said.

“The general deterioration in market conditions has been greater than any changed dynamics associated with the collapse of Brindabella Airlines.”

Mr Lodge said Rex’s profits fell by 45 per cent in the previous financial year and another 60 per cent in the first half of this financial year.

While the entire Australian aviation industry was in crisis, he said regional aviation had been hardest hit due to the smaller routes having no economies of scale and a less efficient use of resources.

He remained tightlipped on the profitability and viability of the Orange/Sydney route.

“Airlines cannot disclose commercial route-specific information, however, all airlines have a mixture of profitable and unprofitable routes and for the smaller independent regional airlines it is essential to be profitable in order to provide essential regional air services,” he said.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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