A SIMPLE door is all that is standing in the way of Regional Express (Rex) launching a Tamworth service, according to a Rex executive.
Tamworth councillors were last night expected to rubber-stamp a recommendation for a report into the cost of constructing a separate departure area for Rex at the airport.
It comes as pressure builds on Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) to allow Rex to fly from the city without security screening.
The Singaporean carrier has indicated it would challenge
QantasLink on the Tamworth-Sydney route if, as allowable under federal law, it could operate without screening its passengers.
Warrick Lodge, Rex’s general manager of network sales and strategy, said the airline would be willing to provide three return services daily at peak times, a move that could radically force down ticket prices.
“It wouldn’t involve a significant terminal redevelopment. You would effectively just need an allocated door,” Mr Lodge said.
“If council doesn’t adopt the decision to have a screened and unscreened area at the airport, it’s going to be extremely difficult to connect a network to Brisbane.
“And if council doesn’t make the decision, we won’t be coming to Tamworth – it’s as simple as that.”
He said of the seven regional airports that Rex serviced with security screening, only one – Dubbo – charged them for it.
Three of the airports, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Port Lincoln, had provided a separate screened and unscreened area.
Under federal law, aircraft weighing less than 20 tonnes – such as Rex’s 13-tonne Saab 340s – do not require security screening.
Rex this week issued a fresh round of expressions of interest for councils keen to have an additional air service.
Tamworth travel agency Travel Managers owner Paula Peterson said a second airline would provide “healthy competition”.
“QantasLink has been wonderful to Tamworth over the years but we definitely need a second carrier,” Ms Peterson said.
“With the yields they have,
QantasLink can’t give every seat away to discounts and people need to realise that.
“But the prices are sometimes too high and that’s prompting people to drive to Sydney.
“If there was competition, the market would grow and it wouldn’t necessarily take business away from QantasLink.”
The Tamworth-Sydney route has been a monopoly since the collapse of Tamair and Ansett more than a decade ago.