MAJOR regional airline Rex has said it will consider pulling services from Armidale Regional Airport if fees are increased.
“Rex opposes any increases in airport fees and charges that are above CPI as this would be against the spirit of the agreement that was responsible for Rex establishing the Armidale service in the first place,” a spokeswoman said.
“As such, any increase in airport charges, including security charges that are not required by Rex, will certainly weigh on Rex’s decision to continue to service Armidale, particularly in light of the current industry wide pilot shortage.”
Armidale Regional Council has proposed to introduce landing fees that would cost operators $460 a year for each aircraft after the first five, which would be exempt.
Rex began services between Armidale and Sydney in 2015; before that, Qantas’ regional airline service QantasLink was the sole operator.
A spokeswoman for council said it had individual commercial-in-confidence arrangements with QantasLink, Rex and FlyCorporate.
“Like all airports, these arrangements include terminal counters, signage, check-in facilities, offices, luggage management facilities, equipment storage, apron allocations and a contribution to airport operational costs,” she said.
Rex and former Armidale Dumaresq Council entered into a five-year agreement with the airline that expires in June next year.
The decision to come to Armidale was the result of a successful bid by council when Rex put the call out for regional communities that wanted a competitive Sydney service.
“Without which [the agreement] Rex would not have proceeded due to the significant commercial risk,” the spokeswoman said.
A number of smaller airline operators at the airport have also threatened to leave if landing fees are introduced.
Council deferred the decision in the June meeting after strong debate from a number of councillors.
A QantasLink spokesman said they wouldn’t comment until after the July decision.