Windsor, Treloar warn council over rex fiasco: 'It won't fly'

THE fight for a second carrier on the Tamworth-Sydney route has intensified after a council powerbroker yesterday demanded councillors break the security screening impasse.

THE fight for a second carrier on the Tamworth-Sydney route has intensified after a council powerbroker yesterday demanded councillors break the security screening impasse.

Former mayor James Treloar has lodged an urgent notice of motion for Tuesday night’s council meeting, calling on councillors to find a way to allow Regional Express (Rex) to service the route.

it comes as former New England MP Tony Windsor and councillor Juanita Wilson also backed calls for Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) to waive the $8.50 a head security screening for Rex.

Under federal law, passengers on Rex planes do not require screening, but TRC has so far refused to waive the charge for Rex, claiming it would give the airline an unfair advantage.

The issue has emerged as a deal-breaker in Rex’s quest to fly the lucrative Tamworth-Sydney leg.

But Cr Treloar said by waiving screening fees for aircraft that do not legislatively require it, council could help dramatically reduce ticket prices to Sydney and lure a new carrier to Brisbane.

“We should be encouraging smaller operators so they take these routes up,” Cr Treloar said. “I’m optimistic councillors will come up with a solution to how we can accommodate Qantas and Rex.”

Cr Wilson said the cost of flying to Sydney was stymying progress in Tamworth. “Rex has every right to say we don’t want to pay for a service we don’t legally have to use,” Cr Wilson said. “I don’t agree with council that waiving the charges is subsidising Rex, it’s just common sense. Yes, it will come at a cost to provide an unscreened area but travellers are paying a premium price with QantasLink and it’s become a joke. 

“People just can’t afford it.”

She asked council to consider making the arrival gate an entry and exit point, saying it could double as an unscreened area for Rex at little or no cost.

Meanwhile, former New England MP Tony Windsor has urged council to act swiftly on the issue. 

“I wouldn’t have thought the cost (of building an unscreened area) was a lot compared to the benefits competition will bring,” Mr Windsor said. “There are places that would be screaming out for a second carrier. Tamworth is one of the most expensive regional airports in Australia to fly in and out of and that must have an impact on business activity.”

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