REGIONAL Express (Rex) has come under fire from the country’s key airports representative over an angry conflict with the operators of King Island’s airport, in which accusations of lies and deception have been made over a new funding scheme.
The Australian Airports Association (AAA) says it is disappointed in Rex’s tactics and supports King Island Council in its plan to introduce a per passenger fee to fund the island’s gateway.
But Rex has accused the council of “lies, deception and incompetence” and objects to a doubling of airport charges.
“King Island is one of Rex’s most marginal routes across its entire network of 60 ports with only 14,000 annual passengers and operates at a loss to Rex for much of the year,” the airline said.
“A doubling of airport charges bringing an additional $127,000 in cost will surely make the services in its current form completely unviable.”
The airline said the council had lied about the scale of the airport’s losses and made defamatory statements suggesting Rex had indulged in price-gouging in WA.
It also attacked “false and scurrilous” statements by the council and accused it of xenophobia in wrongly claiming Rex was based in Singapore.
AAA ceo Caroline Wilkie said the island’s per passenger fee was “consistent with standard industry practice”.
“King Island is a small community of only about 1,600 people and they simply cannot continue to underwrite the commercial activities of airlines in this way,” Wilkie said.
“A $7.50 passenger charge represents a fraction of a Rex airfare to the island,” she said.