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Clarence Valley Council airports coordinator, Geoff Smith, and Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson, at the recently completed Grafton airport upgrade.

Passenger numbers grow as airport upgrade work finishes

Clarence Valley Council airports coordinator, Geoff Smith, and Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson, at the recently completed Grafton airport upgrade.
Clarence Valley Council airports coordinator, Geoff Smith, and Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson, at the recently completed Grafton airport upgrade.

Passenger numbers at the Grafton Regional Airport are continuing their steady upward climb.
Figures collected by the Clarence Valley Council show that since Regional Express (Rex) Airlines started direct Grafton-Sydney and Sydney-Grafton flights in October 2014, every month passenger numbers have improved against the corresponding month the previous year.
Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson, said that in 2014 there was a real risk falling passenger numbers would result in Rex withdrawing its services.
“That would have been disastrous for the Clarence economy and travelling public,” he said.
“People told us they didn’t like the stopover the former service had in Taree, so we made a strong case to Rex to introduce at least some direct services to and from Sydney.
“We are grateful Rex listened. The importance of that decision is reflected in the increased number of passengers the airport is now seeing.”
But Cr Williamson said a pricing discrepancy was something Rex should still address.
“Rex passengers flying from Lismore to Sydney pay less than those flying from Grafton to Sydney,” he said.
“It’s obviously further to Sydney from Lismore than from Grafton, so I think that needs attention.
“At the very least they should be equivalent.”
Cr Williamson said that in January 2014 passenger numbers were down to 486.
“January is traditionally slow, but in January 2015 they got up to 552 and January this year it was 640,” he said.
“Our best month since the change in flight schedules was June this year with 1501 passengers.”
Cr Williamson said improvements to the passenger terminal, tarmac, lighting and skirts – most funded through the NSW and Federal Government governments – made the airport a much more attractive facility for airport users.
“That should help keep numbers growing,” he said.
“Free parking, upgraded facilities, direct flights, no traffic snarls and being close to town make the Grafton Regional Airport an attractive option for the travelling public.
“It seems more people are starting to realise this.”

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