Lower Eyre Council to waive charges for airlines

Lower Eyre Peninsula District Council has announced it will defer requirements for airlines to pay airport charges until the end of June as the aviation industry deals with issues involving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional Express (Rex) had written a letter to the council, who operate the Port Lincoln Airport asking for support, in particular providing a 70 per cent reduction of the head tax payable from April 1 to December 31.

In the letter general manager network strategy Warrick Lodge said should the reduction not be possible, the route may not be commercially viable with the sharp reduction in passenger numbers and might have to reduce or suspend services altogether until such time the company was strong enough.

The council's chief executive officer Rod Pearson said the council was advising Rex it would defer the requirement for airlines to make payment of airport charges until June 30, at which time it would review the position.

He said the decision was aimed to give the airlines some breathing space in relation to cash flow.

"In July, a review will be undertaken of passenger numbers and flight schedules, along with government support for both airlines and the airport during this uncertain time and the airports base operational costs and cashflow required to keep the airport operational," he said.

Rex had informed it will shut down its regular public transport services in all states except Queensland from April 6, pending a decision from the commonwealth and state government to cover losses incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Pearson said the council supported Rex's approach for government support to cover losses incurred, as regional aviation was critical to our communities.

"Council will therefore be directly approaching the Commonwealth and State Governments seeking financial support for both Regional Express and Qantaslink operations from the Port Lincoln Airport," he said.

Rex has also sought support from Ceduna District Council to ask for a 50 per cent reduction.