Clarence?s vital air travel is restored
By JENNIFER HUXLEY
WHEN Grafton's Rex Nicholson was fighting for his life in an induced coma at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney last year, his family and friends had to catch flights from Coffs Harbour to visit him.
The airline Transair, which operated in NSW as Big Sky Express, was grounded late last year, leaving Clarence Valley residents without a direct link to many major cities.
This link will be soon be restored when Regional Express (REX) starts services linking Grafton and Taree with Sydney on Monday, February 26.
Yesterday, REX hosted a promotional event at Grafton Airport to officially launch the new service.
Mr Nicholson said he was pleased Valley residents now had easy access to a direct air service to Sydney.
"I had staph and meningitis and was in a bad way, doctors expected I wouldn't live through it. It was a hard time for my family and friends when travel was a bit difficult," he said.
"It's good to see planes operating out of Grafton again, it will make things that much easier for people to get to their loved ones, especially if time is a bit short.
"Rex is a great name and I'm sure the service will live up to it."
Despite the Clarence Valley's poor record of supporting locally operating airlines ? since 2001 six airlines have tried and failed to make Grafton Airport viable ? REX's managing director Geoff Breust said he thought the population area was sufficient enough to deserve a quality air service.
"We will need 40,000 passengers per year to make it viable," Mr Breust said.
"While Grafton to Sydney via Taree is a marginal route in terms of REX's operations, we felt compelled to do something for these regional cities."