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Council on track in keeping airfares down

Earlier this week Rex Express Airlines (Rex) issued a media release calling on Federal and State Governments to be discerning in funding for Regional airport refurbishments. Rising from this was the concern that Moruya Airport has recently been upgraded with such grants which come with no provision for ongoing maintenance or depreciation contribution. Council has adopted the viewpoint in the past that such grants do add a burden to the ratepayer purse with the community expected to meet the ongoing costs. Often the only way to recover them is to apply a user fee. Of concern was that any consideration of user-pay increases by Council, to either the passenger or the airline, would be counter to the intent of developing the Moruya Airport as an affordable gateway into the shire for business and tourism. With that in mind The Beagle asked Eurobodalla Council: "How does Council consider meeting this new burden and will either the airline or its passengers be required to contribute?" Council's spokeperson advises "Eurobodalla Council maintains the Moruya Airport as a service to the community. It provides benefits to the local economy via business and tourism opportunities as well as access to medical specialists and an alternative mode of travel for residents."

"The aim of the Moruya Airport redevelopment is to ensure the long-term viability of the airport, not only in terms of having the necessary infrastructure to service community need but also to ensure it is sustainable into the future. "The subdivision, which makes available new commercial space, provides an income stream to help offset running costs for ratepayers, along with economic development opportunities that benefit the region.

"The Moruya Airport terminal upgrades were the minimum necessary to make it fit for purpose. Council chose this approach rather than the significantly more expensive option of a new terminal. Development of a new terminal remains part of the Moruya Airport Master Plan for when it is required." the spokesperson added.

"Regional Express (Rex) has told Council they appreciate our measured approach to the airport redevelopment.

"Council entered into a five-year partnership agreement with Rex in July 2015. This agreement provided airport revenue certainty for Council and in turn provided Rex with airport cost certainty relating to the Moruya air service to Sydney. "Last year Rex reduced fares and increased its services into Moruya, largely due to the certainty provided from the five-year deal. Passenger numbers using Rex in this period have increased by 25 per cent."

Copyrighted to Jason Suters & used with permission.

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