BATHURST Regional Council is on track to find a replacement carrier for Regional Express Airlines (Rex), which this week confirmed it would cease its Bathurst-Sydney service at the end of June.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
In anticipation of Rex's withdrawal, council last month launched an expressions of interest (EOI) period to find a new carrier.
Initially, the airline was expected to cease its service at the end of May.
Deputy mayor Ben Fry said that the extension of services to the end of June is a silver lining, giving council a few more weeks to find a new carrier.
"The silver lining is that we've got Rex until the end of June, which is great, and then we've obviously launched our EOI process that's currently still in play and we're getting great feedback on that," he said.
"We look forward to comparing what all the airlines that will submit their EOIs have to offer the people of Bathurst."
According to Cr Fry, council has already received submissions from interested parties, although he is remaining tight-lipped on the details.
He said the deadline for submissions remains June 8, with council to start the review of the EOIs soon after.
The goal is to get a new carrier operating from Bathurst Airport as soon as possible, and the indication from interested parties so far is that they are just as eager as council to get up and running.
"If all goes well, we'll only be without an airline for a matter of weeks, which is a good result for the people of Bathurst. Short-term pain for long-term gain," Cr Fry said.
"The impression that we're getting is that whoever is interested wants to start yesterday, which is a great thing for our city, because we need this critical link."
His hope is the carrier ultimately chosen will be able to offer two flights daily between Bathurst and Sydney on weekdays, and at least one service on the weekend.
An arrangement like this would support not only professionals who rely on air travel for work, but the city's growing tourism economy.
Rex announced its decision to leave Bathurst, along with four other regional centres, on Monday.
In a statement, the deputy chairman of Rex, John Sharp AM, said the decisions were made to improve the airline's financial performance.
He blamed Qantas for the decision, accusing the major carrier of "predatory actions on Rex's regional routes".
A Qantas spokesperson was quick to hit back against Mr Sharp's comments, saying that Rex "has no-one else to blame but itself" for the termination of services.
Cr Fry also thinks Rex needs to take responsibility for the decision to leave five regional centres.
"Rex blamed Qantas and blamed predatory behaviours from other airlines, but they've got to take a bit of responsibility for the service that they provided Bathurst and the other towns they've pulled out of," he said.
"I think the service was plagued with unreliability, cancelled flights and the people of Bathurst need more surety in their air travel than that.
"I look forward to moving forward and finding a new airline that will be able to meet the needs of the people of Bathurst."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.