Airline lifeline for Armidale region

Council is praising Federal Government support of a basic air service to the Armidale region, following the announcement it would underwrite the cost of airlines operating a “minimum domestic network servicing the most critical metropolitan and regional routes”.

The decision came after all carriers providing regular passenger services to Armidale Regional Airport suspended their flights earlier this month, leaving the region without any air passenger service. REX Airlines and Fly Corporate were first to suspend their services, followed by Qantas shortly after on 10 April.

The Federal Government’s announcement to support a basic service has acknowledged the need to continue essential passenger travel and freight around the country despite the country being in lockdown to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said he welcomed the announcement from the Federal Government of a short-term rescue package for regional aviation.

“The Department of Infrastructure and Transport has confirmed Armidale will be serviced by Qantas for two flights per week, for a period of eight weeks to begin with. It is great news to have our concerns addressed,” Councillor Murray said.

“We have repeatedly said that flights are crucial to the people of Armidale – for work, medical appointments and business.”

He said while it is a long way from the restoration of normal service at Armidale’s Regional Airport, where approximately 131,000 passengers pass through each year, the rescue package is welcomed.

“I’d like to acknowledge our Federal Member Barnaby Joyce for his advocacy to help make this happen. We are waiting to hear from local Qantas staff when these flights are likely to be timed but this is a great break through,” Cr Murray said.

“Armidale Regional Council will continue to work with Government and carriers to maintain this essential connectivity. This gives our community the basis for a resumption of full services once we come out of travel restrictions.

“We’re confident air services to this region will be restored once the crisis has passed. But in the meantime, this temporary lifeline is invaluable in protecting the welfare of our community and helping to minimise the impacts the COVID-19 crisis will inevitably have on our economy.”

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