THE cost of security screening at Tamworth airport may be a sticking point on Regional Express (Rex) servicing the region.
The company has begun conversations with areas such as Geraldton, Port Macquarie and Canberra about filling the void left by Virgin, which earlier this month announced it would drop several regional areas off its schedule.
However, Rex's network security general manager, Warrick Lodge, said Tamworth would not be considered if the company would be charged for passenger screening.
"Rex has been in discussions with community leaders and government representatives desperate for an airline to fill the gap left by Virgin Australia," Mr Lodge said.
"Rex's community fare scheme delivers substantially lower ticket prices for those communities that agree to participate.
"However, cities, such as Tamworth, which insist on charging security screening charges on carriers not legally required to be screened, will not be considered."
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said the issue of screening charges had been a long-held bone of contention between the council and Rex.
"I can confirm Rex have approached us for discussions," Cr Murray told the Leader.
"I think Rex is very good at articulating their negations through the media, but we are more than open to discussions with Rex in a mature way, not through the media.
"Our response has always been very direct, we are more than happy to have them come here, but they have to understand our airport has been configured to ensure all customers are screened."
Rex's push to enter more regional markets comes after Virgin opted to not return to Tamworth "for the foreseeable future" due to business constraints brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Commonwealth government legislates when security screening is required by airlines based on a comprehensive risk assessment," Mr Lodge said.
"Local governments are out of their depth in this area and achieve nothing but damage to their own local economy if they choose to go against the Commonwealth government's position.
"As regulations dictate that security screening is not required for Rex's aircraft.
"Rex calls on all local government to avoid imposing unnecessary security levies at regional airports that will ultimately be passed on to passengers by way of increased ticket prices."
Cr Murray said the council had been in conversations with other airlines about servicing the region.
"We will act in the interest of our community and that's always been our aim," he said.
"Our community has often articulated that they like the secure travel aspects and the direct connectivity of not having to recheck their luggage or be re-screened when they reach their destination.
"We are certainly open to having discussions with Rex as we always have been and we have had recent discussions with other airlines too."