Updated: Mar 20, 2020
Travellers to Sydney will now have to make their way to Tamworth for flights after an airline axed the route from Armidale.
Regional Express has finalised the first stage of network reductions with effect from April 6.
Overall, the airline will be reducing capacity by 45 per cent which includes suspending three routes.
Rex's General Manager of network strategy and sales, Warrick Lodge, said they will be monitoring the situation closely.
"If the situation worsens we may be forced to further reduce capacity in the interests of maintaining essential regional air services," he said.
"This capacity reduction alone will not be enough and we have reached out to local councils (airport owners) to seek a reduction in airport charges to keep operating costs to a bare minimum so that the reduced services can be sustainable.
"Rex promises to also stand by these local councils in their moment of adversity when Rex is solidly back on its feet."
The decision is regrettable but entirely understandable given the impacts of the pandemic Corona virus, Armidale mayor Simon Murray said.
“While any loss of transport services to our region is a blow, particularly the air services that are so valuable to our residents and organisations, we recognised the actions service providers must take during the global COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
“Virtually all businesses will be focused primarily on the health and safety of their teams and their customers - and REX is no exception.”
Cr Murray said Council has a strong working relationship with each of the services providers that operate from Armidale Regional Airport.
“We will work closely with REX, doing everything we can, so its flights can be restored as soon as it is practical while liaising with the other operators that are continuing to provide regular passenger flights to Armidale,” he said.
“We’re confident the level of air passenger services to Armidale Regional Airport will be restored once the crisis and the consequent reduction of passenger movements is over.”
“In the meantime, council is taking every possible step to minimise any impact the COVIC-19 crisis has on the regional airport as a transport and economic hub of the region.”
Cr Murray said those actions ranged from efforts to minimising disruptions to services, to hygiene measures to further protect the health and safety of airport users.
“There haven’t been any officially reported cases of Corona Virus in the Armidale region and Council is doing all it can, at the airport and with its other services, to help ensure that continues,” he said.
“Council continues to provide its services wherever possible.
"While our customer service areas have been closed to face-to-face transactions, to protect the health and welfare of our staff and the community, our online and phone services ensure we remain open for business.”