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Signs are good

Saturday, 26th February, 2011

By Gina Wilson

Rex Airlines wants to add four more flights to its Broken Hill network.
The city’s Sydney and Adelaide routes both had a big jump in passenger numbers last year, with as many as 14 per cent more people flying.
While across the Regional Express Airlines (Rex) network passenger numbers fell by 1.4 per cent, the Broken Hill to Sydney leg rose 10 per cent to about 14,000.
The big jump was on the city to Adelaide leg with about 2,000 more people flying, bringing that route’s total seat sales to 17,000.
Rex, the sole commercial airline servicing the city, said it hoped to increase its early-week Adelaide flights to three but admitted that could be some time away.
“The next logical steps are increasing the Monday and Tuesday services from two return services to three return services which makes for three return services Monday to Friday,” the airline said.
“When demand increases to make this economically viable it will be considered as part of the ongoing network reviews.
“The average (occupancy) ... was below 63 per cent which does not warrant additional capacity ... (but) we as an airline are motivated to fly more.”
General manager for Rex’s network strategy Warrick Lodge said more mining activity boosted the city’s passenger numbers with Rex adding some ad hoc flights to serve passengers attending several large local conferences.
All in all 3,000 extra passengers flew through the city in the six months.
Mr Lodge said its network-wide passenger numbers were affected by increased airport charges at two regional airports, Burnie and Mt Gambier, which brought capacity down.
“The vast majority of our services went up including Broken Hill,” Mr Lodge said.
“It is showing strong signs and that’s positive for Broken Hill.”
While Mr Lodge admitted the figures were being compared to 2009’s global-financial-crisis-induced depressed level, he said there was growth occurring.
“We went through a period of (depression) during the GFC and with the pilot shortage ... but now we’re back on track and seeing some good signs of growth,” he said.
“We hope that we can continue to grow Broken Hill well into the future.”
Rex, which flies to 35 destinations in five states, said Broken Hill made up less than five per cent of its total passenger numbers.
The company posted a $12.2 million before tax profit, down 5.4 per cent, amid a five per cent jump in fuel costs and a 3.8 per cent increase in other costs.
In its half-yearly financial report for the six months to December 31, released this week, Rex showed a 1.4 per cent overall drop in passenger numbers.

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