REXIT: Glimmer of hope after airline terminates service
REX Airlines has followed through on its threat to pull out of Grafton, with the airline officially terminating its service to Grafton Regional Airport on Friday.
However, there is hope another airline could take on the route, with Clarence Valley Council in discussions with another carrier.
According to the Rex Airlines website, Grafton is no longer an option as either an origin or destination for any flights, with the last departure listed as 9am Friday.
Last month the airline announced via a letter to Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay operations from Grafton airport would end on July 3.
A spokeswoman for the airline confirmed to The Daily Examiner the reason for the cancellation of the route was due to comments made by councillors in a debate over whether they would provide a credit note for the airline.
At the June ordinary council meeting, councillors voted 8-1 for a resolution which would allow the mayor to advise Rex it regretted the negative comments made during the May meeting and how vital its air service was to the region.
Cr Debrah Novak said it was time Rex "pulled their finger out", an expression the airline said caused offence to Regional Express Holdings executive chairman Lim Kim Hai.
However, the letter of regret fell on deaf ears and as of Friday, Rex was officially out of Grafton.
"The letter didn't contain an apology, and the chairman wanted an apology which wasn't forthcoming from either council or Cr Novak," Mr Lindsay said.
While Mr Lindsay said the loss of Rex from Grafton Airport was "disappointing", he said discussions with another airline were now underway.
"I touched base with FlyPelican CEO Marty Hawley on Friday and we've had some discussions on the process from here to engage them at Grafton Regional Airport," he said.
"Most regional flights are subsidised by Federal and State Governments and I have been put in touch with the representatives co-ordinating the subsidy process through the Department of Transport. From there we have to see if it will be possible to get a couple of services a week subsidised through the regional air services program."
Mr Lindsay said the negotiations were in the very early stages, and it could take up to six weeks for an air route to be approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
"I have already spoken to (Page MP) Kevin Hogan about this issue and will provide him with more details so he can help us take this further," he said.
"Having an air route from the Clarence to Sydney is critically important, particularly for business, government, courts and health, all these professional services that are not readily available directly in Grafton."