Ticket to Griffith
Saturday, 15th September, 2018
By Emily Roberts
Local flights to Mildura will continue for now after Regional Express announced this week that it had terminated its flights between Mildura and Sydney.
Rex said Mildura Airport had wanted to increase the head tax by 22.5 per cent on all routes.
The company said that the Mildura to Sydney route would end after the last service on October 27.
The aircraft, crew and Sydney airport slots will be redeployed to the Sydney to Griffith route which has been experiencing solid passenger growth, Rex said.
This means Broken Hill people may now catch a flight to Griffith where Rex has negotiated a five-year deal with that city’s council.
“Rex initiated a review of services to Mildura following notice from Mildura Airport Pty Ltd (MAPL) of a 22.5 per cent increase to the Mildura Airport head tax applied to all routes (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Broken Hill),” a Rex spokeswoman said.
“MAPL later amended it to a 13.7 per cent increase applicable to the Melbourne route only.”
Rex’s General Manager of Network Strategy and Sales, Warrick Lodge, said the increase was seen as “a blatant money grab and in breach of on-going commercial agreements”.
“At the recent Board meeting, the Rex Board directed an exit of the Mildura to Sydney route and to undertake a further review of the Mildura to Adelaide route at the next Board meeting in late November,” he said.
For local residents, this means flights are unaffected for now, but as the Mildura service is undergoing a review they may be cut back.
“The Rex Board has directed management to prioritise its scarce pilot resources to routes where the regional airport does not abuse its monopolistic position by treating the airport as a cash cow to finance inefficiencies elsewhere,” Mr Lodge said.
The decision by Rex to cut its service between Mildura and Sydney was “disappointing but not surprising”, said Mildura Airport Chairman, Peter O’Donnell.
“It’s not surprising because Rex has stated publicly that it is under great pressure due to Australia’s current pilot shortage, and I think that has been a major factor in Rex’s decision,” he said.
“It’s disappointing because it means people in the Sunraysia will have reduced choice.”
Until this decision Rex had been running flights from Mildura to Sydney on most days of the week.
Rex’s decision is not expected to affect Mildura Airport’s overall operational situation with passenger numbers predicted to remain steady,” said Mr O’Donnell.
“For Rex, our proposed increase was about two dollars on a ticket.
“We kept it as low as possible so the impact would be barely noticeable.
“But Rex, of course, makes its own commercial decisions for its own reasons and we must respect their position.
“We hope that there will be a change of heart sometime in the future and we will continue to support the longstanding relationship we have with Rex on their other routes through.”