Rex angst over airport screenings

AIRLINE Regional Express (Rex) is furious it will be slugged for the cost of security screening for passengers at Dubbo’s airport because a competitor has introduced bigger aircraft. 

Airport upgrades, including security screening from March 4, were “essential as the Dubbo City Regional Airport prepares for the introduction of larger aircraft”, according to Dubbo City Council.

But Rex general manager of network strategy and sales, Warrick Lodge, said while federal government legislation only required screening for passengers boarding QantasLink jets more than 20 tonnes, council had decided to screen all passengers.

Mr Lodge said Rex operated in 32 regional ports but it was the first time a decision had been made to charge for screening its passengers who did not legally require it.

Mr Lodge said while council talked up the benefits of the 74-seat QantasLink Q400 aircraft’s introduction, including an extra 384 seats available each week and the creation of 10 permanent security positions, Rex or its passengers would have to absorb the extra $8.55 per passenger cost.

“It’s not fair for Rex and its passengers to pay $27,000 a month, more than $300,000 a year, because of a council prerogative. Rex passengers will be subsidising QantasLink ones,” he said.

Mr Lodge said while the capital cost of screening equipment had been met by federal government grants, Rex would have to foot a hefty chunk of the ongoing costs.

MSS Security Pty Ltd would provide security screening services at the airport with the service “to be provided to the travelling public at full cost recovery from the regular public transport operators (ie. the airlines)”, according to a council statement.

Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson said while legislation had not stipulated mandatory screening for Rex passengers departing Dubbo, it all came down to safety.

“We looked at the operation of the terminal and safety of passengers and said, ‘Is the security of Rex passengers not as important as that of QantasLink passengers?’,” he said.

“We have to do the right thing for passenger safety, and that’s why I was amongst a council that voted unanimously for this.”

The proposal to charge the airlines for screening was on public exhibition and submissions would be accepted until 5pm tomorrow.

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