LISTENING: Warrego MP Ann Leahy with Senator Barry O'Sullivan and Murweh Mayor Annie Liston.
LISTENING: Warrego MP Ann Leahy with Senator Barry O'Sullivan and Murweh Mayor Annie Liston. Contributed

Airline concerns raised

TENSIONS were high as the regional airline inquest came to town on Monday.

The Murweh Shire Council and locals raised their concerns surrounding the Charleville airport with Liberal National Party Senator Barry O'Sullivan.

Flights' on-time performance, reliability of the flying schedule and the issue of security screenings at the airport were some of the key issues voiced at the inquiry.

Member for Warrego Ann Leahy said it was an opportunity for herself and the community to have a round the table discussion with Mr O'Sullivan as they head into the current inquiry conducted by the Rural and Regional Affairs Transport References Committee for the Senate.

"We discussed the issues that were relevant to southwest, keeping in mind we have two operators in Charleville, one being Qantas and the other being REX,” Ms Leahy said.

"The issue that was really well articulated by the members of the community was on time performance and reliability.

"Somebody made a comment that it wasn't so much the cost of the ticket, but because we have this distance that we have to travel we want to be able to get on a plane and get to where we need in the time that is advertised.”

The issue of security screenings was another point of concern for Charleville locals.

Ms Leahy said that currently Q400 aircrafts were unable to land in Charleville due to the airport not having a security screening machine and the 20 tonne regulation.

"I spoke with the Murweh mayor and the community about what we would do and if council spend around $1.5 million and put the security screening in, there is only two years of the current contract with Qantas for the regulated route to run,” she said.

"The issue we have down the track is what if Qantas don't tender or aren't successful for the tender and another operator comes in and they have an aircraft that doesn't require screening. Charleville airport will then have a $1.5million machine sitting there.

"In my view we should look at how this regulation is operating and see if there is some way we can work out an option that works for both.”

However, one positive that came from the inquest that Ms Leahy raised was the general consensus of people utilising residential fares and the absence of issues regarding them.

Murweh Shire Mayor Annie Liston said she was happy with how the inquest meeting played out and was looking forward to the outcome.

"We appreciate Senator Barry O'Sullivan coming to Charleville to listen to the locals about the inquiry into the regional airlines and we look forward to the outcomes from this inquiry.”