Rex Airlines services between Armidale and Sydney will be fully suspended from 29 October to 30 March 2024 due to pilot and aircraft shortages.
Mayor Sam Coupland acknowledged that Rex is operating in a highly competitive environment with airlines all vying to recruit and retain qualified pilots.
Rex will be suspending all flights from Armidale to Sydney from October 2023 to March 2024.
“The simple fact of the matter is that planes don’t fly without pilots,” said Mayor Coupland.
The Mayor said Rex has built an excellent reputation on the Armidale to Sydney route over the last nine years and welcomed Rex’s commitment to return to the standard flight schedule from 31 March 2024, calling the service vital for business, health care, government services and tourism.
However, Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has expressed different feelings on the matter.
“I am bitterly disappointed by this news, especially given the enormous amount of support Rex has consistently received from Armidale Regional Council and the travelling public of our region over almost a decade,” Mr Marshall said.
“Having two airlines servicing the Armidale to Sydney route on a daily basis for almost 10 years has been a huge success and resulted in cheaper fares and many more flight options for people across the district than most regional centres in NSW.”
Mr Marshall called on Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson earlier this week to increase their flight capacity on the route but strongly states the fares must be maintained at current levels.
“It is well known that when QantasLink previously held a monopoly on this route we were faced with unreasonably high fares, in some cases up to $1,200 return,” Mr Marshall said.
“I made it crystal clear to Qantas that price gouging will not be tolerated, and that the community expects the usual fares and the Red-e deal special fares to remain at current levels.
“Access to these flights for people across our region are vital and just because one carrier leaves, does not give licence to the one remaining to make flying to Sydney unaffordable again.”