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Regional airports under pressure – AAA

written by WOFA | February 17, 2014

photo - Scott Mason
Regional airports are under pressure. (Scott Mason)

The Australian Airports Association (AAA) says regional airports are coming under increasing pressure to cut their charges from airlines.

In a February 13 statement, the AAA said about a third of Australia’s regional airports are already making a loss, while the rest are struggling to raise sufficient funds in order to develop and maintain their infrastructure, and that calls from airlines to further reduce landing and other charges are unsustainable.

“The majority of Australia’s regional airports that support regular passenger transport (RPT) services are owned and operated by local governments, to ensure their communities have aviation services for business, tourism, education, access freight and access to services only available in metropolitan centres,” said Caroline Wilkie, CEO of the AAA said.

‘Around one-third of our regional airports owned by local government bodies are making a loss, while others struggle to raise the funds needed to develop and maintain the infrastructure demanded by airlines and the Commonwealth Government through its aviation safety and security regulations.’

The AAA’s comments come in the wake of Rex subsidiary AirLink citing “ambivalent” attitudes of council mayors and “significant commercial risk” as its reasons for walking away from negotiations to conduct interim operations from Mudgee and Cobar to Sydney.

“Regional airport operators also assume considerable risk when investing in airport infrastructure, as there is no guarantee that airlines will continue services at current schedules or with their current sized aircraft,” Wilkie added. “Indeed, the Brindabella Airlines collapse has left some local government authorities owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid airport charges.”


  • John


    How stupid is a local authority that lets an airline clock up “hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid airport charges” ?

  • ian


    without regular air services a town simply dies. Maintain the RPT services at all costs.

  • Freddie


    I frequently travel to Regional airports and am horrified at the add on costs to the ticket – levied by the local Council. A lot of Regional ports supply towns out of the mainline of Aviation where these tickets are half the price of the Regional ones. The Regional Airports are a necessity for medical emergencies amongst other things. I whole heartedly agree with Ian. The cost of tickets to some Regional Airports would take me to Singapore and back in some instances. So how does that equate….?

  • Brett


    I frequently travel for work and also operate within the Aviation Sector. I have seen first hand the struggle that Regional Airports have in maintaining their infrastructure to the required standards and also meeting the variety of mandated requirements that are enforced by government. These airports provide a vital link for communities and FIFO workers to be able to achieve their varied requirements and also provide a key platform for safety (i.e. Medical Evacuation). It is important that people understand the issues surrounding the capability to provide the required funding for these airports, one of which is the rate payer base that a local government has to draw down upon. If you don’t have the money coming in, the proper maintenance and management becomes, at the least difficult, at worst – impossible. Whilst it is understood that there is some pain in the Airline environment regarding the profit/loss margins, these ticket pricings are calculated to ensure the viability of the airports into the future.

  • BRG


    Yet nobody questions the hyperbole and sensationalised media releases which REX puts out? They are going to be one of the very few operators which turn a profit, and a healthy one at that- Its about time that regional operators stop seeking service on a silver spoon from regional airports.

  • Dante


    The problem with many local governments in many country areas is a lack of vision and their towns are dying because of it. They need to grow their towns and then they will have the tax revenue to provide decent airports and other basic services. Maybe what should have happened when all the capital city airports were privatised all the country airports in the same state should have been part of the package.

  • Ben


    I think quite the opposite Dante, the vast majority of these regional airports should be qualified as an ‘essential service’ and treated as such. I’d go so far as to say maybe we should just adopt the FAA system where fuel taxes pay for the vast majority of fees. Heck in the US you could land your Cessna 150 at a major international airport and only be charged a service fee by the FBO you arrived at (who would marshall you in, tie your aircraft down and refuel it for you).

    It’s not only regional airlines that are suffering, private aviation is also getting the bad end of the stick. The charges mean traffic goes elsewhere, revenues go down, prices go up, traffic goes down… you can see the cycle we are stuck in here. There is a fixed cost with purely retaining the airport in condition, then additional for future upgrades. But I fear the premium put on aviation by councils and private airport owners since it’s seen as a ‘rich man’s game’, not a service to the community far outweighs these fixed costs + proportional wear and tear. As an example the Cirrus I fly (MTOW 1361kg) is slugged in excess of $60 to use the secondary metropolitan airport at which it is based. You can not seriously tell me at such a major aerodrome the light weight Cirrus has that much cost, even if I fly the ILS, at night with the runway lights up full and make a severely hard landing!

    Pity many operators have yet to discover you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

  • craig


    Some NSW ports need to be subsidised by the State Government !!!!! any ideas ?

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