Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey has spoken in Parliament calling for more Government support for regional airports affected by the Government’s passenger scanning security upgrades.
“From January 1 regional airports throughout Australia are required to have full passenger screening scanners in airports operating aircraft with a seating capacity in excess of 40 and with more than 30,000 passenger movements a year,” he said.
“I support these measures which are made on the best security advice that aircraft of a certain size, fully loaded with fuel can be targeted by terrorists to be used as a projectile weapon.
“The Government will pay for the installation of the scanners, but since the reforms were first announced I have been raising concerns about the impact the ongoing operational costs will have on airports with a limited number of passenger movements and their subsequent ability to defray these fixed costs.
“Senator Rex Patrick has also raised concerns and flagged the possibility of moving a disallowance motion in the Senate during May which would stall the introduction the scanners Australia wide until this issue is fixed.
“I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that and we have resolution before that time.
“Many airports in regional Australia are serviced by either QantasLink or Rex Airlines or both. In the case of Rex Airlines, their SAAB aircraft have less than 40-seat capacity, so any airport that is operating Rex only will not be affected.
“The airports in my part of the world hosting Qantas services are using Q400s which have a seating capacity in excess of 70 and they will be impacted by this legislation. In Grey the new regulations will affect Whyalla, Port Lincoln and Roxby Downs which is serviced by Alliance Airlines and their Fokker fleet.
“In a report from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development where Whyalla airport was used as a case study it is estimated the cost per passenger will be $69.50 if they screen just the Qantas passengers and $53.90 if they screen all passengers at a total cost of about $2 million a year.
“These are costs we cannot expect either the public of the airlines to pay. Many aircraft operators are already under great pressure with, Rex Airlines recently announcing they were ceasing services to Kangaroo Island, leaving Qantas as the sole operator and expressed concern about the viability of the Whyalla route at the time.
“Whyalla airport is already operating at a loss and cannot absorb the extra costs and I am very concerned that one or two of the carriers may well pull out.
“In Port Lincoln and Roxby Downs the impacts would be less severe, but it is still an additional cost which will impact all.
“I have raised this issue with my colleagues and am hopeful we can work towards a solution.”
Media Contact: Leonie Lloyd-Smith March 2, 20202
Contact 02 62774967