A REX flight arrives at Grafton airport Photo: Adam Hourigan/The Daily Examiner
A REX flight arrives at Grafton airport Photo: Adam Hourigan/The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

Is closing Grafton Regional Airport the answer?

GRAFTON Regional Airport is still failing to pay its way, despite an upward trend in passenger numbers.

A report to the Clarence Valley Council corporate governance and works committee on Tuesday said passenger figures in November last year - 1973 - were the best since October 2008.

And the December 2016 numbers -1327 - representing an increase of 5.28% on December 2015 and 20% from 2014, were also encouraging.

But the report noted the council is not covering operational costs with its income derived from a $7 head charge.

 

A graph from the Clarence Valley Council report  showing the numbers of users of Grafton Regional Airport.
A graph from the Clarence Valley Council report showing the numbers of users of Grafton Regional Airport.

One of the issues for the airport is REX Airlines' triangulated service from Lismore to Grafton then Sydney.

Lismore passengers to Sydney do not pay the $7 head charge at Grafton and also diminish the number of passengers able to board the flight at Grafton.

But the service is preferable to the previous triangulated service between Sydney, Taree and Grafton, as it provides some direct flights between Grafton to Sydney.

REX has told the council the triangulated service between Lismore and Sydney is the only way it can remain viable.

Travellers wait for the REX plane to arrive at Grafton airport

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Travellers wait for the REX plane to arrive at Grafton airport Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan
 

The figures prompted questions from Cr Karen Toms, who suggested the only way to improve the council's position would be to close the airport.

"The airport is costing ratepayers a fair bit of money," she said. "Are we trying to find efficiencies to balance the budget.

"Closing the airport might be the only way to do it, but I suppose there would be consquences from that."

The council's director corporate Troy Anderson said the council was unlikely to find enough efficiencies to balance the budget, but was looking into them.

The committee voted unanimously to receive and note the report.



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