Regional Express has reached an agreement with the Queensland Government to continue a reduced schedule to a minimum of one return service a week.
Under a variation of the existing service contract, the reduced schedule will see all communities on the Northern 1 and 2 routes, the Western 1 and 2 routes and the Gulf route, receive at least one return service a week.
These routes were awarded to Rex in January 2015, but the company said due to the COVID-19 pandemic it had completely destroyed the commercial viability of these routes under the original service contract.
Rex said the reduced schedule would be completely underwritten by the Queensland Government and would give Rex certainty to operate these essential air services to regional and remote Queensland, even with passenger numbers plunging by up to 95 per cent on most routes.
Rex's General Manager of Network Strategy Warrick Lodge said the Queensland Government understood how critical air services were to remote and Outback Queensland.
"The Queensland Government has allocated a considerable budget to further subsidise these communities to provide them with a minimum level of essential air services," Mr Lodge said.
"They are only one of two states in Australia that have risen to the challenge and the Queensland Government has managed to sustain enough air services to meet the minimum needs of these communities during this period of national emergency.
"Rex has also applied for funding from the Federal Government and if successful this would see the five routes increased to 85 per cent of services, that were originally provided by Rex prior to the COVID-19 crisis. This compares very favourably with other states like New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria that will see only about 5 per cent of their regional air services returning under Federal funding."
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the government's partnership with Rex was essential to ensure a minimum level of air services were maintained for the state's regional and remote communities during the COVID-19 response.
"There are many community members with pre-existing health challenges who still need to travel to larger centres for treatment, or workers who need to travel for essential jobs, so air services are critical to support them," Mr Bailey said.
"Like many businesses, airlines are doing it tough so I thank Rex for working with us to make sure we continue to provide essential transport options for rural and regional Queenslanders."
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