REX may fill flight gaps


Commuters rely on timing of existing QantasLink flights between Sydney and Ballina

REGIONAL airline REX may take over flight schedules abandoned by QantasLink when budget carrier Jetstar starts flying into the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport.

Jetstar announced on Thursday that it would start flying an Airbus A320 into Ballina from Sydney on July 12, aiming at the region's tourist market and starting with $28 fares.

But the flip-side was that the move would slash the number of daily Qantas flights to Ballina from three to one, entirely replacing the existing QantasLink service.

Jetstar corporate relations manager Simon Westaway said the single Jetstar A320, which seats 177, would increase the number of Qantas seats available at Ballina by about 20 per cent.

Mr Westaway said Jetstar had no plans to run more than its single flight, but that could change in the future.

That statement offered no comfort to Lennox Head-based MLC Catherine Cusack, who said many people relied on the timing of the existing QantasLink flights to commute between Sydney and the Northern Rivers.

Ms Cusack said she had seen QantasLink fig- ures showing its flights between Sydney and Ballina were about 80 per cent of capacity.

REX managing director Geoff Breust said his company was now considering whether it could fill the gap to be left by QantasLink, with an announcement expected within the next week.

However, Mr Breust said the Jetstar announcement had taken REX by surprise and it would not commit to replacing the service without first examining it.

"Our position is we will consider what reaction REX will take. Once we've done that we'll make a call as to what, if anything, we'll do," Mr Breust said. What do you think?

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