Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said he is disappointed Rex Airlines has reduced services in Whyalla, Port Lincoln and Ceduna to one service a week, suspended services in Coober Pedy and indicated unless it receives extra support from the State Government it will totally discontinue services in South Australia.
“I fully understand that any business cannot continue to operate if it keeps losing money and that passenger numbers on all routes in Australia have collapsed,” he said.
“However, Rex has already massively reduced operations and the announcement that they will cease altogether is disappointing considering the support the Federal Government has already provided to the sector.
“The Federal Government has waived all fuel excise, Airservice charges and regional aviation security charges for regional air services backdated to February 1st providing an immediate cash bonus for the airlines.
“Airlines can also access the JobKeeper wage subsidy providing $1500 a fortnight per employee to keep their entire staff on the payroll regardless of whether they are flying or not.
Mr Ramsey said the airline will be afforded the flexibility to temporarily negotiate with staff to work less hours and in doing so ensure the payment fully covers their wages bill.
“The Government is determined to ensure at least minimum service operates to provide essential freight and travel to regional communities and in addition to these behind the scenes support we have made $198m available to regional airlines to negotiate support for individual routes on a case by case basis,” he said.
Mr Ramsey suggested regional councils as airport operators give strong consideration to waiving landing fees through this difficult time, which with the greatly reduced landing numbers, are likely to be very low anyway.
“Rex Airlines has called on the State Government to make a financial contribution and I expect them to carefully consider what they can do to help,” he said.
“I urge co-operation however, but Rex implying the continuation of service is totally dependent on a State Government contribution is not indicative of a commitment to flexibility and that is disappointing.
“Port Lincoln and Whyalla are in the fortunate position of having a second airline operating at this stage and I would urge the two airlines to co-operate to the point where at least one day a week services can be provided where a passenger could fly to Adelaide and back in the day.”
In recent weeks the Federal Government has committed more than $1 billion to the aviation sector in response to the pandemic and will continue to support regional aviation businesses and workers during this difficult time.