A TAMWORTH councillor has lashed out at her colleagues for considering the establishment of a non-sterile area at Tamworth Regional Airport.
Cr Helen Tickle said “not for a minute” would she compromise safety to allow Regional Express to launch a Tamworth service, branding the proposed move a “retrograde step”.
“To suggest any of us are against competition is ludicrous,” she said during Tuesday night’s ordinary meeting.
“But don’t for a minute start suggesting a compromise on security.
“Nor am I for one minute going to subject the ratepayers of this city to spending a lot of money to provide a non-secure area.”
She said she “can’t even understand” why her counterparts would consider the move, given the hefty outlay already spent developing the secure facility.
“We’re suggesting people can go out the (Aero) Club entrance and come in and out of another gate and meanwhile we have got this multi-
million dollar – a $4 million facility – which was only opened ... in August 2012.”
Her words came after Cr James Treloar tabled an urgent notice of motion calling for a report detailing the options available for the establishment of a non-sterile area.
Regional Express has indicated it would be willing to provide three return services daily at peak times if TRC waives the $8.50 screening fee, which under federal law it is not required to provide.
Cr Treloar said the motion was “certainly not” talking about council jeopardising the sterile screening of the airport.
“If somebody wants to go through a port where the aircraft is screened you hop onto QantasLink; we’re not going to compromise your safety,” he said.
“If you don’t believe that you need that and there’s a different operator, that is your choice.”
The motion, which was given the green light, also asked the general manager to identify opportunities for potential competition for the Tamworth to Sydney route and encourage the operation of a Tamworth to Brisbane route.
It will also provide an estimated cost of any alteration to the existing terminal or alternate buildings.
Cr Treloar floated the Aero Club as a possible opportunity for the non-secure site.