Rex airport ban claims dismissed
By ALEX EASTON
CLAIMS Lismore airport's only commercial carrier could be forced out of Sydney Airport have been dismissed by Federal Page MP Ian Causley as a beat-up by the airline. Regional Express (Rex) yesterday launched a public relations assault against the Sydney Airport Corporation, claiming it wanted to force the airline out of Kingsford Smith Airport and into Bankstown Airport, 40 minutes away. Rex started an on-line petition asking people to tell the Federal Government to protect the airline, while staff rallied at Kingsford Smith Airport to protest against changes they said would cost their jobs. The claims yesterday rattled the Northern Rivers, with Lismore mayor Merv King raising fears the city's airport could become a casualty of the dispute. Labor candidate for Page Kevin Bell said he would 'move heaven and earth' to keep the airline's spots at Kingsford Smith, and to keep it at Lismore and Ballina airports. However, Mr Causley dismissed the fears, saying the Sydney Airport Corporation, run by former senior Howard Government advisor Max 'The Axe' MooreWilton, could not move Rex from Kingsford Smith to Bankstown, no matter how much it wanted to. "The Commonwealth Government has an agreement with the operators of the airport and part of that is Rex has access," he said. "It's in their contract." Mr Causley was backed by Transport Minister John Anderson, who said Rex's access to the airport was non-negotiable and would be enforced if necessary. The airport corporation also rejected Rex's claim. State Member for Lismore Thomas George said the airport corporation wanted to force Rex into a lower-quality terminal at Kingsford Smith, which it could do under its contract. Mr Causley pointed out that Rex and the Sydney Airport Corporation were presently negotiating a new contract.