Alternative airline for Orange?: dispute with Rex may force council's hand

Orange City Council says it is only representing community concerns when it questions  the price of Regional Express airfares.

Orange City Council says it is only representing community concerns when it questions the price of Regional Express airfares.

FINDING an alternative airline might be the only choice if a working party cannot make inroads into expensive airfares with Regional Express, according to an Orange councillor.

After Rex labelled Orange City Council “one of the most unreasonable councils to work with” and said it would work together if the council changed its approach in Thursday’s Central Western Daily, councillor Jeff Whitton questioned the statement. 

“I would like to know what they feel is wrong with the council’s approach - we are providing them with a city to fly into,” he said.

“Our approach is simply to spend money on upgrades to our airport - they say there’s no need for it, but we’re not doing it for the fun of it, it will put Orange in a better position.”

Cr Whitton, who moved the motion for a working party on Tuesday night after Rex’s Orange  passenger numbers declined compared with a strong performance in Dubbo, said the council was only approaching Rex with community concerns. 

“The council is only representing the community who raise these issues - they’re asking why it’s so expensive and why we haven’t got a competitive airport like Dubbo and why we haven’t got a second airline,” he said.

OUR SAY: TIME TO END AIR TURBULENCE IN COUNCIL-REX DISPUTE

He said the working party hoped to negotiate a way for Rex to provide affordable flights to those who might not be government or corporate clients.

“If we can’t do that, we’ll go to the market and find an alternative,” he said.

“If I was the CEO of Rex, I would be asking my management why the community are going to the council for alternatives.”

According to Rex’s website, the cheapest price on the route between Dubbo and Sydney is $118.45 for off-peak flights, including a base charge of $86, with prices increasing as cheaper fares sell out or if passengers choose to fly at peak times.

Despite being 96 kilometres closer by air, the cheapest Orange-Sydney route tickets cost $158.95, with a base charge of $121. 

Of all the ticket categories, only the Rex Flex fare is more expensive from Dubbo. 

Dubbo and Orange City councils list their passenger charges as $12.68 and $16.73 respectively.

Dubbo drops the tax to $6.34 once the 75,000-passenger threshold is exceeded.

However, Rex lists its airport and other surcharges as $21.68 and $23.50 for Dubbo and Orange respectively.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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