Published by The Border Watch
AIR passenger services at Mount Gambier Regional Airport have been boosted following both federal and state governments throwing a financial lifeline to the regional carrier.
Regional Express (Rex) - which has been decimated by the coronavirus economic crisis - has secured funding from the State Government to provide a third return flight between Adelaide and Mount Gambier each week.
This follows the Federal Government underpinning two return flights along the Mount Gambier to Adelaide and Melbourne routes respectively.
Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell yesterday congratulated the State Government for stepping in to secure an additional service.
“Transport Minister Stephan Knoll understands the importance and value of a regular air service to a regional city like Mount Gambier,” Mr Bell said.
“We are the second largest city in South Australia and air services are essential for business and passenger travel.”
Mr Bell said the continuation of air services also provided greater certainty for fly-in, fly-out frontline services, including medical staff providing specialist emergency care at Mount Gambier Hospital.
“Regional Express provides a vital link that connects our regional centre to capital cities and I am hopeful that once restrictions are eased and this crisis has passed, more services will be reinstated,” he said.
Member for Barker Tony Pasin also welcomed the agreement between the carrier and the State Government.
“The resolution means three return flights a week will take place between Adelaide and Mount Gambier with two return flights a week between Melbourne and Mount Gambier,” Mr Pasin said.
After helping to negotiating the agreement, the Liberal MP said he was thrilled the important services could remain during the economic downturn.
“Having access to regular flights between Mount Gambier and Adelaide and Mount Gambier and Melbourne is vital for our community,” Mr Pasin said.
“One flight a week was not going to cut it and so I campaigned to ensure a better level of service during this difficult time and I am pleased what I have been fighting for is now a reality.”
While schedules were yet to be finalised, Mr Pasin was advocating for flights to take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“Air services are of critical importance particularly to regional communities,” he said.
“While we have seen the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on all carriers, I am hopeful this support package will not only assist local commuters but also provide the lifeline Rex needs to ensure they are able to bounce back and continue servicing our community once life returns to normal.”
Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said regional Australia owed the Federal Government a great debt of gratitude for providing funding to ensure it continued to receive minimal essential air links to the capital cities for medical, professional and other essential travel needs.
“Without this intervention, many smaller regional communities would risk not having any air services at all for at least six months,” Mr Sharp said.
“Those in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia should also acknowledge the contribution of their state governments in funding more services.”
“With the Commonwealth assistance packages for regional carriers in place, we are confident that we will be able to help all regional communities who are willing to work in partnership with us to rebuild their regional air services to their full potential over the next.