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Air cuts ‘catastrophic’

Monday, 19th May, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

Any reduction to services Regional Express provides to Broken Hill would be “catastrophic”, a travel agent has warned.   

“Helloworld” owner Cheryl Cuy believes the airline will follow through with a threat to cut services if City Council fails to meet its demands. 

The airline had given Council until May 27 to agree to return to the terms of an agreement the two parties struck several years ago.   

Rex’s manager of network strategy and sales, Warrick Lodge, said if it refused he would recommend to his board that it end all direct flights to capital cities and also reduce flight frequency.

While the airline has not stated how far it might cut local services, Ms Cuy said that any significant reduction would be devastating.

She said the impact of fewer flights would be felt across the board, from visiting medical specialists and legal professionals to fly-in fly-out mine workers and holiday-makers. 

“It’s an essential and viable service and without it there will be nothing.

“It would be catastrophic.”

She also warned if Rex did reduce its services there would be no other airline waiting in the wings. 

Two or three smaller regional operators had already gone out of business in an industry that was now “in peril”.

“The community of Broken Hill has to do everything possible to retain these services,” Ms Cuy said.

Rex’s deadline to Council coincides with a quarterly review of its air services which will see it consider expressions of interest from a number of country cities wanting a Sydney service.

Ms Cuy said she knew of five cities that had recently approached the country’s largest regional airline.

Councillor Dave Gallagher was almost a lone voice in opposing a motion that resulted in Rex pulling out of its partnership with Council.

Cr Gallagher said he predicted the 2012 decision to push for the scrapping of the NSW route licensing scheme would see a reaction from the airline.

“This is what I said was going to happen and it has happened,” he said.

“I didn’t think that decision was a good one...we have to abide by agreements.”

But the councillor remains hopeful the fractured relationship between the parties can still be mended.

“I think common sense will prevail ... I would hate to lose the airline.”

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