$10M PLUS MORE: Rex backflips on shutting down western services
MILLIONS in government money is reportedly not enough to keep Regional Express in the air over southwest Queensland, as the company cuts a new deal with the state.
Yesterday, news broke that Rex would shut down all five of its Queensland routes, after coronavirus travel restrictions led to a sharp decline in profits; but overnight, it turned around to announce the Queensland Government is working on a new deal to keep the airline going, which will include reduced services to rural towns.
In light of the situation, the government has revealed how much Rex is already being paid to run regional services, which connect 25 destinations across the state.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said despite the cost, keeping rural towns connected to essential services is the priority right now.
“The Queensland Government pays Rex $10 million a year to run regional air services. Rex has agreed to keep running those services on a reduced schedule under varied terms in our contract with them,” he said.
“My department is finalising contract changes with Rex to allow this to happen.
Regional Queensland communities must continue to have access to air services as we fight to contain COVID-19.
“The Queensland Government will make sure of that,” he said.
“We’re also planning charter flights for essential food and medical deliveries and worker travel to remote and rural communities where necessary.”
In southwest Queensland, Rex operates two major routes, connecting Charleville, Quilpie, Cunnamulla, Thargomindah and St George to Brisbane.
For the Paroo Shire, centred around Cunnamulla, having the air service is a necessity regardless of how it is delivered.
“We are hoping that Rex continues to fly to our region not only to support our community members but also bringing in essential services personnel such as doctors, nursing staff and police,” acting shire CEO Sean Rice said
“It is encouraging that they were able to make a last minute decision late yesterday to continue their service, which is certainly vital for the Paroo Shire Council area.”