Rex over the moonwith N Rivers link

By BREE PRICE

LOW fares and quality onboard service have sparked a jump in Regional Express passenger numbers.

The airline's regional manager, Maurice Gahan, said the number of people using the service from Lismore Airport had risen 37 per cent from this time last year, with usage at Ballina Airport up 26 per cent.

He said the increase was luring passengers who would normally fly from Coolangatta airport.

"In Ballina the growth is creating an extra market and pulling people from Coolangatta," Mr Gahan said.

"People who were driving to Coolangatta are now using Ballina Airport."

He said passengers were utilising the regular 92 flights a week between Sydney and the Northern Rivers.

"There is a lot of choice for people, and we were finding people want the frequency," he said.

"They want to get down and back in one day.

"There are so many choices of times that are convenient for people.

"Fares are also very competitive, from $99, and passengers get on-board service.

"A lot of low-cost carriers don't offer anything at all."

Mr Gahan said Virgin Blue operating from Ballina airport had added to the increase.

"Virgin flying from Ballina has stimulated the market and people now realise they don't have to leave the region to get discount air fares."



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