The NSW Government has opened up two intrastate air routes to competition and has called on Canberra to boost the number of takeoff and landing slots at Sydney Airport dedicated to regional services.
NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said on Monday the Sydney-Moruya and Sydney-Merimbula routes would be deregulated.
Currently, Regional Express (Rex) is the only operator on both routes. However, once deregulated, other carriers would be able to serve those two NSW south coast destinations.
The State Government said the move continued its recent run of deregulation, after it opened up the Cobar, Cooma, Mudgee and Narrabri routes to competition in 2015. Constance noted there were new services on three of those routes since they were deregulated.
The Minister said keeping a route regulated offered no guarantees it would remain in place.
“All it does is add unnecessary red tape for regional operators,” Constance said in a statement.
“I am determined to give regions the fair access to essential services they have been crying out for. Greater choice and more air services will have important flow-on benefits to health, education and employment for everyone who lives here.
”By pursuing deregulation, the NSW Government is doing what it can to increase competition, reduce barriers for new entrants to the market and reduce costs to passengers.”
Constance said the government was considering deregulation on nine more intrastate routes, with discussions with local councils and airlines on flights from Sydney to Bathurst, Broken Hill, Grafton, Moree, Narrandera, Parkes and Taree underway.
Feedback on the question of deregulation was due into local councils by 28 February 2017.
Meanwhile, Constance was pushing for the Federal Government to add five more regional slots at Sydney Airport as part of efforts to boost the number of intrastate flights.
“We are doing everything we can to boost access to the regions, and it is about time Canberra came to the table. It’s time to add five more regional slots at Sydney Airport,” Constance said.
“Regional NSW should not have to cop the loss of 10 per cent of slots since 2001. I want to see our colleagues in Canberra working as hard as the NSW government to make it easier to land and launch more planes to the regions.”
Sydney Airport operates with a cap of 80 aircraft movements an hour, calculated in 15-minute blocks. However, a number of slots, particularly during peak hours, are reserved for intrastate NSW services.