Rex airlines flew its last service to Lismore on Wednesday but the council is in talks with other carriers

David Kirkpatrick
By David Kirkpatrick
Updated July 11 2022 - 5:52am, first published June 30 2022 - 12:29am

Although Rex flew its final service to Lismore this week, mayor Steve Krieg revealed local officials were in talks with other airlines and remain hopeful something positive maybe waiting in the wings.

Lismore mayor Steve Krieg remains hopeful that other airlines will pick up the routes left vacant by Rex which flew its last service to Lismore on Wednesday. Picture: David Kirkpatrick

In May, Rex announced it was progressively withdrawing services from Lismore, Ballina, Grafton and several other regional centres.

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The last flight to Lismore was on Wednesday and last service into Ballina is scheduled for Saturday, July 2.v

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Intense lobbying failed to extend funding Rex received under the Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program, which was designed to keep regional centres connected by air during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While sad to see Rex go, Lismore mayor Steve Krieg also believes there could be a silver lining.

"It is a good chance to re-set the direction of our airport, because of the extensive damage that it sustained during the floods, it gives us a chance to re-design and come up with a state of the art facility," he said.

"Ever since the February 28 flood I have been saying we want to build back better and part of that vision is having a thriving airport.

"What shapes into the future is not for me to really say, but council's been in preliminary talks with other commercial airlines."

Mr Krieg said it was important to take a broader view of the airport.

"I think it needs a point of difference," he said.

"We have a passenger hub at Ballina and we never want to compete with Ballina, they have a great facility and can land jets, and that's good.

"But this could be a perfect opportunity for a flight training school or for the commercial airlines to set up a pilot training school.

"Passenger services should still be a key part of its development and we are in discussions with commercial airlines about picking up those routes."

In a statement released at the time Rex announced it was withdrawing services from several regional centres, Rex's Deputy Chairman John Sharp said it was an effort to "improve Rex's financial performance".

He went on to blame Qantas for its "predatory actions' on Rex's regional routes.

"It is unfortunate that these regional communities are the collateral damage of Qantas' bullying and heartless behaviour," Mr Sharp said.

David Kirkpatrick

I'm a media professional with over 34 years of experience in public relations and journalism, including a decade setting Lismore's news agenda as the editor of The Northern Star. I have proven track record in growing audiences and improving engagement by delivering quality local stories for and about the Lismore community.