REX reviewing Lismore flights as passenger numbers fall

REX airlines (Regional Express) is reviewing flights into Lismore and Ballina Shire Council has voted to investigate the viability of leasing Ballina Byron Gateway Airport long term.

The review of daily Rex services between Lismore and Sydney comes after Lismore and Ballina councils recently expressed interest in leasing their airports, Rex general manager Warrick Lodge said.

"Rex feels that it is important to be transparent about the future direction of the Rex services," Mr Lodge said.

"In light of the falling passenger numbers at Lismore airport, Rex wishes to advise the local community that it is reviewing the Lismore to Sydney service and that a reduction in seat capacity is very likely to better match the reduced passenger numbers.

"The revised flight schedules will be announced in the coming weeks."

Meanwhile Ballina council will begin investigating options to lease its airport after a recommendation was unanimously approved at Tuesday night's Commercial Services Committee meeting.

The recommendation was for the council's general manager to run a competitive tendering process to select a consultant to advise council on long term tenure options available and financial returns for the airport.

In the four years to 2013/14, passenger numbers at the Ballina airport increased from 271,615 to about 400,000.

The gross turnover also increased from $2,376,000 to $4,650,000, with about $12,820,000 spent on infrastructure to cater for the growth.

In a presentation to council, The Airport Group director Hans Pearson said a key part of growing the airport was developing the link road from the bulky goods estate through to the airport.

"The opening of an airport via a gateway to the local community is absolutely critical," Mr Pearson said.

"That escalates the interaction of the community with that key infrastructure asset which creates development opportunities on both sides of the road."

The airport advisory group strongly urged the council not to consider selling it.

Mayor David Wright said growing the airport and developing the link road would help grow jobs in the region.

"We need to make sure that we can grow and provide services," Mr Wright said.

Topics:  ballina-byron gateway airport lismore airport regional express rex airlines

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