A Regional Express twin turbo propellor light air plane comes in to land at Cairns Airport. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
A Regional Express twin turbo propellor light air plane comes in to land at Cairns Airport. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

‘HOSTILITY’: Rex pulls out of Grafton airport over words

THE WORDS used in a Clarence Valley Council meeting this week are the reason Regional Express airlines will cease to fly into Grafton from July 3.

The airline made the announcement to cease flying via a letter to Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay on Thursday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for the airline confirmed to The Daily Examiner that the reason for the cancellation of the route is due to the comments made by councillors in a debate over whether they would provide a credit note for the airline.

WHAT HAPPENED: Councillor's debate over support for airline

When pushed on other reasons for the closure of the route, and whether Rex's Lismore and Ballina routes would continue, the spokeswoman declined to comment, and said that further questions from The Daily Examiner had been forwarded for consideration.

The motion for providing Rex a credit note of $8908.00, which was to be used in January 2021 was passed by Clarence Valley Council 7-2 after a debate ensued on whether councillors questioned council supporting the airline.

FLYING AGAIN: Rex confirmed Grafton route following federal funding

However in the letter, the company has stated it has rejected the offer, despite asking for it in earlier correspondence.

Written by Rex Airports Manager David Brooksby, it opens by thanking Clarence Valley Council for offering Rex a rebate of $8908.00.

"Please note however that given the hostility of the Councillors in relation to this matter, and

following the call for Rex to "pull their finger out", Rex will reject Council's offer. Full settlement has already been made last week," the letter reads.

A Rex (Regional Express) aircraft on the tarmac at Sydney Airport.
A Rex (Regional Express) aircraft on the tarmac at Sydney Airport.

It concludes: "Please also be aware that Rex will cease all services to Grafton with effect from 3 July 2020."

Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said the decision "really surprising and disappointing", and was seeking to talk to Mr Brooksby over the matter.

"Council received correspondence from Rex on March 19 and requested that council provide a 50 per cent reduction of the head tax from April 1 to December 31, 2020," he said.

HELP NEEDED: Rex asks for council's help

"Council in March resolved to give a reduction of 100 per cent unanimously.

"We then received further correspondence on April 23 seeking a credit note over landing fees … that could used in January 2021 for their first lot of invoices.

"This was passed 7-2 … and it seems the "pull your finger out" (comment from the debate), that's what has offended them.

The airline recently received federal funding to provide three return funded services on the Lismore-Grafton-Sydney route, and Mr Lindsay said that he was pleased the area was being supported more than other areas.

HARD LINE: Rex asks for masks, temperature checks to board aircraft

The Daily Examiner has asked to speak to Airport Manager David Brooksby, or their deputy chairman John Sharp or chairman Lim Kim Hai to explain the sudden decision.

The Daily Examiner has also asked for Member for Page Kevin Hogan's comment on the matter.

A Regional Express plane lands.
A Regional Express plane lands.


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