A report to yesterday’s Clarence Valley Council meeting says passenger numbers passing through the council’s Grafton Airport have improved, however, the numbers are not high enough to cover the cost of running the facility.
“In the month of November 2016, the passenger numbers that passed through Grafton Airport were 1,973, this figure is the best since October 2008, November figures are up by 19.14 per cent on November 2015 and that figure [is] up over 20 per cent on November 2014,” the report to council states.
“In December 2016, passenger numbers were 1,327, up by 5.82 per cent on December 2015.”
The July to December numbers for 2016 have increased by 1,028 passengers (11.7 per cent) above the same period in 2015.
The upward trend in numbers is a result of passenger carrier, Regional Express (REX), changing its triangulated service from Sydney-Grafton-Taree (when a direct flight to Sydney was not available) to Sydney-Grafton-Lismore, which provides direct flights to Sydney.
“Although the change in service still is providing Council with an upward trend, REX maintains that the service is not viable unless it operates the current triangular route via Lismore,” the report to council states.
This means there is a “limited passenger capacity when Lismore passengers are on board as Council does not receive any income from Lismore passengers”.
Clarence Valley Council receives $7 for each passenger that passes through the terminal.
The council’s business plan for the airport, which is due to be reviewed, states: “Clarence Valley Council takes the view that the airport contributes to the Region’s economic well being, and supports a strategy to maintain and grow services and to increase the use of the airport.”