Most people would be aware of grievances aired by Regional Express (REX) towards Dubbo Regional Council in recent months. Unfortunately this issue has raged on far more than anyone would have liked. In December council will meet with the airline to discuss options for better fares for flights between Dubbo and Sydney, and ways to improve the relationship between council and REX.
Council is committed to working with REX to find an outcome that is favourable for the airport, citizens and the airline. That is why I tabled a Mayoral Minute at the Ordinary meeting of council on Monday night requesting a report with all negotiation opportunities of the REX meeting be compiled. From my perspective, council has several obligation in its role as the manager of Dubbo City Regional Airport.
The first is to maintain the facility to the highest possible standard, to benefit everyone who utilises it including airlines and passengers.
The second is to ensure the airport is financially self-sustaining. It would not be good for ratepayers if they were forced to subsidise the airport's existence.
And the third is to ensure that local residents are given access to flights to a variety of destinations that are affordable and beneficial.
I am confident that council is succeeding in its duties. Our airport has a variety of purposes but providing passenger transport is a major one. Dubbo's airport is one of the largest in regional Australia, with 200,000 passengers flying in or out every year. This is one of the foundations for the airport's success, and Council appreciates the relationship it has with all airlines and would like to see them continue.
A focal point of REX's criticism of council is our determination to make security screening of all flights mandatory. While REX would like to see this scraped, screening is not negotiable. In order for our security to be most effective, it is crucial that every passenger on every flight undergoes screening. There can't be different rules for passengers on different airlines.
Rex has said in the media it believes "the only solution is to accept some risk exists in everyday life. However it also said the goal should be to "reduce [risk] to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable". I believe that security screening is a reasonably practicable solution and one that has been working quite well for some years now.
I am not in a position to talk in detail about items that have been detected through screening, or risks that have been managed but I am very glad that Council has taken such a strong stance on looking after the welfare and safety of passengers and workers.
While Council won't waiver on security screening, all other options can and will be looked at. Council will go into the meeting with REX looking for a solution to benefit everyone.