REX airlines conducts Lismore survery

By JANE GARDNER

LISMORE is greeting 25,000 more people every year now than in 2003, thanks in part to the cheap airfare revolution. But who are these visitors?

Regional Express Airlines, which has a monopoly over Lismore Airport, plans to find out. They have approached Southern Cross University and Lismore City Council with plans to conduct a detailed survey on who is coming to Lismore, how long they're staying and why they are visiting.

Maurice Gahan, regional manager of REX, said he believed the majority of visitors were still coming to Lismore on short business trips.

"Lismore is a big commercial centre and we've matched our scheduling so business travellers can mix and match their flights in and out," he said.

"It is also possible people from Sydney are coming to visit the university and our health facilities here." The most obvious reason for the sharp increase in travellers is increased flights between Lismore and Sydney, now four a day.

"The increased numbers are also stimulated by reduced airfares which were a result of a partnership with Lismore City Council," Mr Gahan said.

"A reduction in passenger taxes allowed us to lower our fares to levels they've never been before and stimulate a new market. People who wouldn't usually travel by air because it was too expensive can now, when you consider the price of fuel."

And although it's difficult to measure, Mr Gahan said he believed people were choosing to fly in to Lismore as an alternative to Coolangatta Airport because of the lower priced airfares.

Due to the increase in visitors, Lismore Airport will most likely gain a new permit to allow other airline operators to fly out next year.

The State Government will deregulate Lismore Airport by removing its sole operator status. The threshold for such a decision stands at 50,000 passenger movements.



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