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May 6, 2021

Rex Airlines slashes services to Lismore

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Regional Express is rerouting two of its three daily Lismore to Sydney services via Grafton.
Regional Express is rerouting two of its three daily Lismore to Sydney services via Grafton.

Chris Dobney

Regional Express Airlines (Rex) yesterday announced changes to its flights within NSW that will, in its own words, ‘slash services’ to regional airports including Lismore and Grafton.

In fact, the news is not quite as bad as the airline’s own PR department would have it: both airports will retain their existing three return services to Sydney, Sunday to Friday, and two services on Saturday.

What will change is the routing of the aircraft: two of Lismore’s three daily services will now ‘bunny-hop’ via Grafton.

Grafton is the winner: it will gain one direct service a day, with the remaining two continuing to stop over at Taree.

Taree in turn will have one of its flights travel via Newcastle.

A flight from Lismore to Sydney via Grafton will now take passengers around two hours 20 minutes, compared to one hour 40 minutes for a direct flight.

‘Placating Grafton’

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell is scathing of the move, which she described as ‘placating Grafton at the expense of Lismore’.

She told Echonetdaily she was ‘very disappointed’ at Rex’s decision.

‘I knew there was some assessment of flights from Lismore but I’d been assured about six weeks ago that Rex was looking at the mid morning and mid afternoon flights to go via another point,’ Cr Dowell said.

‘I was yesterday informed that the first flight in the morning and the last flight back will go via Grafton. For those flights to go via Grafton, leaving later here and arriving much later in Sydney, I think is very damaging for Rex and very disappointing for business people from Lismore who are looking to get down in time for a business meeting in the morning,’ she added.

‘Previously people were landing at roughly at 8.30 and could be at a meeting in Sydney by shortly after nine o’clock. Now the plane does not land in Sydney till nine o’clock, which means realistically that you’d be lucky to make a meeting by ten.

She added that Rex had lost an early slot in Sydney, ‘which is highly sought after and greatly valued’.

‘It just looks like the Grafton line was weak and Rex told me they had lost a lot of money on the Lismore line. This looks like making both less viable,’ she said.

Cr Dowell denied the changes to Rex’s schedule would impact the potential sale of Lismore Airport, which council currently has out to tender.

‘We knew about Rex’s losses on the Lismore route well before we were approached to look at selling the airport. Rex were more than comfortable with the discussions so I don’t think the two items should be linked at all,’ she said.

The timetable changes will take effect from October 27.

Rex has not announced any changes to its two daily direct flights to Ballina.

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  1. spurious timing in the mayors complaint. Poorly engineered to create a seemingly more intense argument. Just over a half hour to get to a meeting if you land at 8.30 and probably over an hour if you land at nine? Give me a break!!

  2. Flights out of Lismore first thing are very often delayed due to fog anyway – we sit in the hanger waiting and waiting. Better to be upfront and leave at a later time in the first place.

  3. I regularly use the 8.30 service to attend a 10 o’clock meeting in Sydney. The flight often lands after 8.30 and with the wait for taxis and traffic congestion I usually just make it to the meeting on time.
    I won’t risk catching the new flight, as arriving at 9am I would be very stressed about getting to a 10am meeting on time- and arriving 1/2 hour late it’s just not worth going down for.
    This is a common scenario- change the schedule so it’s not functional then close the service because no one is using it.
    Very sad to lose our regional airline service. Lismore shire residents have just become even more transport disadvantaged.

  4. I am a weekly user of these Lismore flights. Rex has made several silly and expensive decisions over the lat few years which has lost them customers. It does make an enormous difference. It’s not just the altered landing time (which when you add the effect of fog and other regular delays significantly eats into the working day), its also the additional sitting time in these small uncomfortable plane seats. I won’t ever be using the new flights and I won’t be alone in that decision. I’ll fly out of Ballina and if that service deteriorates (such as stopping in Newcastle too often), I’ll drive to the Gold Coast and spend a lot less money on Virgin or Jetstar.

  5. Just lost me. There is no way I will risk getting to Sydney later and then home too, as well as longer flights and double landing and take off. Surely they know this will kill the Lismore run. The Mayor will be cheering she wants to sell the airport to mining companies anyway.

  6. Back when there were three airports vying for domination, some economically wise, more community orientated Lismorons urged Lismore to drop out and close the airport. Let Casino, the best site develop. After Casino shut down, Lismore should have gone out of the airport business, but the egoism of keeping Lismore as Regional Centre triumphed. Of course Ballina airport has won as predicted. Lismore airport has lost lots of money every year as well as millions in new infrastructure. If Lismore council had listened and acted to close Lismore airport. when first suggested, exact figures are not available but Lismore would be at least 25 million better off. Might even have been able to afford a new art gallery .


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