• Rex SAAB 340 at Sydney. (Norbert Genci/Regional Express)
    Rex SAAB 340 at Sydney. (Norbert Genci/Regional Express)

Regional airline Rex has criticised the federal government's new rebate scheme as "token" and says it will do nothing to stem the loss of regional services.

Minister Warren Truss announced a return to subsidies for regional air routes yesterday, pledging $1 million per year over four years to help airlines cover Airservices Australia's en route charges. Routes eligible for the rebate must not carry more than 15,000 passenger every year.

In a statement released today, Rex Chief Operating Officer Neville Howell expressed the airline's disappointment in the new scheme.

“The amount allocated by the Federal Government to the new Enroute Charges Payment Scheme represents only 15% of the assistance given under the previous scheme. Furthermore, the low threshold of 15,000 passengers per annum means that most of Australia's regional routes are not eligible for the rebate.

“It is disappointing that the government is doing so little to help regional aviation when 16 regional airlines have collapsed in the last 12 years. Given the current aviation crisis in this country, more will collapse, and the token amounts will not stem the permanent loss of regional services to many parts of regional Australia.”

Rex currently operates 1300 weekly flights to 36 regional airports throughout eastern Australia. The airline made a profit before tax of $10.7 million for the 2013-14 financial year, a drop of 45% from the previous year.

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