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

Council dodges airport security bill

JUST six seats could be the difference between having to pay half a million dollars in security cost, or not.

Clarence Valley Regional Airport has avoided being included in a list of 64 regional airports which would have to undergo changes to their security measures, as the main aircraft servicing the runway is below the 40-seat threshold.

The new requirements were announced by the Federal Government in the 2018-19 budget and will require the regional airports across Australia to include passenger and baggage screening.

In a submission to the senate report into the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities, The Department of Home Affairs estimated the initial cost for the screening equipment would total $530,000.

That cost would be incurred by the Federal Government through their Regional Airport Security Screening Fund.

However it would be the responsibility of the airport to fund the ongoing personnel and maintenance costs which they estimated could range from $530,000 to $760,000 annually.

Any increased security outlay would have only added to the significant annual cost of $300,000 which council spends on the airport.

The senate report stated the new security measures were to include security screening for "all persons and staff on RPT (regular public transport) flights with more than 40 or more seats."

The Clarence Valley Council Regional Airport Master Plan stated the Rex services which operate out of the airport use the Saab 340 which had capacity for just 34.

However the Department of Home Affairs stated in the report the 40 seat threshold was not the only factor taken into account when they made a decision on which airports would have to introduce the measures.

"I can say that some of them are below the 40 seats and some of them are above the 40 seats," said Anita Langford, first assistant secretary with Home Affairs.

"That 40-seat threshold operates in concert with other thresholds like the number of passengers that might go through an airport in a year, what their local intelligence agencies think is a local threat"

According to government data, both inbound and outbound aircraft numbers were down in 2018 on 2017 levels.

However there was an increase in passengers on 2017 levels with a total of 18,518 passengers passing through the Clarence Valley terminal.



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