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Rex slams governments for ‘grandiose’ regional airport upgrades

Australia’s Regional Express has fired a shot across the bows of Federal and State governments, calling on them to be “discerning” when choosing which upgrades to fund at regional airports.

The carrier states that it has seen its operating costs rise significantly in the past 16 years, largely due to increased charges at many of the airports it operates at.

The increases, Rex says, are driven by “irresponsible and grandiose spending on regional airports to construct excessive facilities that provide no meaningful improvement to the air service”. Rather, such spending forces operators – usually local governments – to increase charges.

Rex says that these are often funded by the State or Federal government and “result in the perverse effect of making regional air travel more expensive which directly threatens the viability of essential regional air services.”

The warning came on the eve of Australia’s Federal budget being handed down, which will then trigger state governments to also release theirs in coming weeks. Both levels of government usually use Budget announcements to flag funding for some regional airport upgrades.

While it did not single out specific airports where government-funded upgrades have led to increased charges, it called for greater consultation with regional carriers as part of the approval process.

Rex operates regional flights in most Australian states, flying a fleet of 52 Saab 340s.

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