Dubbo Regional mayor Ben Shields would get his wish for cheaper airfares if the council he leads opted to raise the passenger tax at Dubbo City Regional Airport only in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Regional Express Airlines (Rex) is offering a "community fare" of $119 between Dubbo and Sydney, and $189 between Dubbo and Broken Hill, if Dubbo Regional Council agrees to cap the tax.
The airline's pioneering community fare scheme, currently operating in 15 regional communities, has won praise from a Senate committee which looked into air services in the bush.
Rex allocates 30 per cent of its seats to the scheme.
The community fares must be bought "outside of 30 days prior to departure, subject to the designated seats remaining available".
They are also available for "all unsold seats within 24 hours to departure".
Rex announced it was "ready and willing" to introduce the conditional scheme at Dubbo airport after Cr Shields declared he "desperately" wanted airfares to come down and called airline operators "greedy".
"It is inhibiting the growth of Dubbo to have such expensive flights," he said last week.
As part of its fourth budget, the council is increasing the passenger tax by $1.99 to $16.90, representing about a 13 per cent rise.
The tax paid by airline operators applies to every passenger who arrives or departs from the airport.
Cr Shields said the increase in the tax was needed to pay for a bump of more than $1 million in airport maintenance and costs resulting from new infrastructure.
Rex has accused the mayor of " cheap political grandstanding" and is suggesting the money being collected by the council is more than is required to run and maintain the airport off Cooreena Road.
A Rex spokesman said the latest Dubbo airport financial statements available to the public revealed user charges of $3.952 million and other income of $136,000, resulting in total airport revenue of $4.088 million.
"The vast majority of the $3.952 million would come from airline operators, which includes approximately $1 million in airport security charges," he said.
"Excluding the $1 million security screening cost, not needed at most regional airports, Dubbo Regional Council has charged carriers $3 million for running the airport.
"Based on Rex's experience with more than 50 regional airports and intimate knowledge of the actual budgeting of the airport expenses at some regional airports, $500,000 is about what it takes to run the airport if done efficiently."
The spokesman said the 13 per cent rise in the passenger tax would cost airport users more than $400,000.
Annual revenue of "similar regional airports" including Parkes, Bathurst, Broken Hill, Griffith, Orange and Armidale was "$300,000 to $1.3 million", he said.
Another condition of the scheme should it be introduced at Dubbo airport relates to security screening.
"..if Rex is not legally obliged to have its services screened by federal government legislation then it would not be imposed security screening charges," its spokesman said.
" In FY18 Rex paid $350,000 in airport security fees, approximately $30,000 per month, and this cost is something that Rex has to bear within its ticket pricing to the customer.
"Rex will incur a similar annual security screening cost at Dubbo airport in FY19.
"Rex's Saab 340 aircraft do not legally require to be screened under the relevant federal government legislation. "