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Rex accuses Whyalla Council of having a ‘secret agenda’

written by Jake Nelson | July 6, 2023

Steve Allsopp shot this Rex Saab 340, VH-ZXF.

Rex has dismissed Whyalla City Council’s claim that it could not afford to modify its airport terminal for unscreened passengers as the “Rexit” saga continues.

Whyalla Mayor Phill Stone said on Wednesday that the renovations required to support flights without security screening would have been unfeasible, as the city’s airport has only a single gate. However, Rex has labelled this as a “deceitful and deceptive” assertion “calculated to hide [a] secret agenda”.

“Rex, more than any other party in Australia, has the most experience in screened and unscreened departures from regional airports and we are intimately familiar with the modifications needed,” said Rex’s national airports manager, David Brooksby.

“We have given a suggestion to Council of a workable solution that would involve works of less than $10,000.  This would alleviate the need for Rex passengers to subsidise Qantas operations to the tune of half a million dollars annually.

“Furthermore, when the current Whyalla airport terminal was at the design stage, Rex requested that Council have two departure gates and this request was ignored.”


When contacted by Australian Aviation, a spokesperson for Whyalla City Council said, “Rex’s ongoing, emotive allegations do not warrant further public response.”

Rex pulled out of Whyalla at the start of this month after Whyalla City Council made the move to pass on security screening cost increases at the city’s airport to airlines, accusing the council of favouring Qantas, which has since stepped in to fill the gap.

Whyalla’s single-gate airport stands in contrast to Armidale Airport in NSW, which Rex praised for its decision to convert one of its three gates for unscreened services, thus allowing Rex’s and Link Airways’ sub-40-passenger flights to continue to operate without increased costs.

In a statement earlier this week, Whyalla Mayor Phill Stone said similar alterations would have been “complicated and expensive”.

“Rex’s solution for renovating the terminal purely to accommodate its needs would result in additional reconfiguration and operational costs for council,” he said.

“With no funding forthcoming from the federal government nor Rex to cover this expense, this is not a cost council can simply absorb, and we are not willing to pass such costs on to ratepayers to meet Rex’s demands.”

Mayor Stone said the federal government is to blame for the situation at Whyalla, as despite an “11th-hour, three-month extension” for security screening funding, thus far it has failed to commit to continuing the funding long-term despite “extensive advocacy” by the council to relevant ministers.

“Ultimately, the responsibility for the situation rests with the federal government which has let the Whyalla community down by ceasing this funding,” he said.

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