Passengers using Dubbo's airport could enjoy savings in ticket costs like counterparts in two neighbouring centres where the number of people taking flights has grown, if there was a changed approach to fees at the facility, an airline suggests.
Regional Express (Rex) reports its passenger numbers jumped by about 25 per cent at Orange and by 30 per cent at Parkes after it introduced its community fare scheme.
Rex is continuing to put a community fare of $119 between Dubbo and Sydney on the table if Dubbo Regional Council would agree to cap increases of the passenger tax to CPI and remove the cost of security screening for Rex aircraft, not required under federal legislation.
Rex reports all airlines' payments to the council, Dubbo's airport operator, for the passenger tax total $3.5 million, more than double that at Orange and more than six times greater than at Parkes.
Dubbo council says it is taking responsible action in managing the airport, and that its pricing strategy is not based on other locations but on "operating costs of our facility now and planned investment in the future".
Rex leaders cited figures as they made the company's case for change to business owners and community members at Dubbo on Friday.
Rex deputy chairman John Sharp AM told the Daily Liberal once introduced, the community fare scheme would lift passenger numbers.
At Parkes there had been a 30 per cent increase, from about 28,000 passengers annually, to 36,000 a year, he said.
"And in Orange, where it's now been in place for just over a year, we've had a 24, 25 per cent increase in passengers from about 54,000 passengers a year to 66,000 passengers a year," he said.
"So as soon as we get this in place, there will be increased activity at the airport, more passengers and in the end, that means more revenue for Dubbo."
Rex reports the council's draft master plan for the airport includes a 13 per cent increase in the per passenger tax.
Council CEO Michael McMahon said a $1.99 increase per person to passenger fees applied from July came after "nil or minimum increases in previous years" and was "critical" to support future renewal of the upgraded runway.
"Dubbo is a very strong route for airlines - especially to Sydney," he said.
"We feel the $1.99 increase is not unreasonable considering the ongoing investment Dubbo Regional Council is making to its airport, in order to attract tourists, business, and investment."
Mr McMahon put forward a rebuttal of making comparisons between airports.
"Dubbo Regional Council pricing strategy is not based on other airports but on the operating costs of our facility now and planned investment in the future," he said.
"Comparing fees is unreasonable as different airports may have different assets and infrastructure to maintain or operational requirements to ensure airlines can operate at the facility.
"By comparison to other major regional airports such as Tamworth, Wagga, Albury landing fees are all similar."
The community fare scheme operates in 39 centres in Australia.