Squeeze put on Rex
By BYRON KAYE of AAP
SYDNEY. ? Regional airline Rex was being squeezed out of Sydney airport because the facility favoured growing domestic carrier Virgin Blue, Rex managing director Geoff Breust said yesterday. Mr Breust said the Sydney Airports Corporation had indicated it did not want to renew Rex's lease, which expires on November 30 this year. The regional airline, which operates daily flights into Lismore and Ballina, and ferries more than half a million travellers throughout NSW and Canberra each year, could be forced to consider moving to Bankstown airport. However, Mr Breust said the airline company did not want to move, and it was not a viable option. "We'd be far better off closing the airline down than going to Bankstown," he said. Rex officials are due to meet with Sydney Airport representatives today to discuss the situation. However, Mr Breust said Rex sought clarification from Sydney Airport on its future arrangements since February this year with no success. He believed the airport, whose biggest shareholder is currently Macquarie Bank, was gradually shifting its favour to larger, more influential players. "Sydney Airport's owned by Macquarie Bank," he said. "It's yet another bank that's really trying to screw the bush. "We've seen what the banks have done regionally in Australia in the last 10 to 15 years. "They'll see this as just another major corporation trying to look after the big end of town and trying to go where the dollars, etcetera, might be, rather than understanding really what this activity is all about." Mr Breust said regional air services into Sydney airport were 'just as important as international services or the other domestic services'. "There should be appropriate levels of access to all parties," he said. Mr Breust said that when Federal Transport Minister John Anderson announced the sale of Sydney airport two years ago, he assured the public regional services would not be disadvantaged by it. Nevertheless, Mr Breust remained optimistic of a satisfac- tory outcome. "I still hope that we can achieve it," he said. A spokesman for Mr Anderson said yesterday the Government would not allow Sydney Airports Corporation Limited to end any airline's access to Sydney by moving them to inadequate facilities. "The Government has guaranteed regional airlines, including Rex, access to Sydney airport," the spokesman said. "We will not allow Rex to be forced out to Bankstown."