No touchdown likely for Rex

TAMWORTH Regional Council has promised residents that securing competition on the air service to Sydney remains one of its top priorities, despite the door set to be slammed on a possible bid by Regional Express (Rex).

Speaking ahead of tonight’s TRC meeting, where councillors are expected to rule out offering any concessions to help attract Rex, council’s general manager Paul Bennett said the search for a second airline would continue.

Mr Bennett said council’s desire to retain the airport’s status as a “secure airport facility”, rather than introducing non-sterile areas to meet Rex’s demands, could be the key to enticing a carrier to compete with QantasLink.

“Council is committed to having competition in the market and encouraging airlines to come and council’s biggest role in doing that is providing a level playing field,” he said.

“We think it’s a really attractive thing for passengers to know that on every plane that goes in and out of there as an RPT (regular public transport) that every person has been screened and their baggage has been screened.”

Mr Bennett also said it was apparent that Virgin Australia was unlikely to entertain coming to Tamworth “any time soon” as its expansion into regional areas is focused on larger centres.

Rex has claimed that ticket costs on the route between Tamworth and Sydney could halve with the introduction of a challenger to QantasLink, which, as the sole carrier, has little pressure on its prices.

The Tamworth-Sydney route is one of QantasLink’s most profitable on a network that includes 56 metropolitan and regional destinations across Australia and Papua New Guinea.

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