Rex Calls on Adelaide Airport to Fix Facilities for Regional Travellers
Monday, 6 February 2006

South Australia’s and Australia’s largest independent regional airline Regional Express (Rex) has called on the management of Adelaide Airport to fix the problems regional air travellers are experiencing at the new terminal.

“Despite raising these issues years ago when the terminal was still in the design phase, Adelaide Airport Ltd (AAL) has presented a facility to regional travellers which has proven to be totally unacceptable and demeaning,” Geoff Breust, Rex’s Managing Director said.

“Regional passengers not only face long distances to walk to and from their aircraft, the covered walkways are so hot and claustrophobic that we believe they will cause stress and injury to passengers. Some passengers have commented that it felt like walking through a cattle crush”

“After a month of operations in the new terminal and a flood of complaints from passengers, our appeals to Adelaide Airport to fix the problems have produced no concrete action from AAL. Therefore Rex has no alternative but to bring the issues into the public arena in the hope that our regional passengers get a fair deal.

Rex has written to AAL’s Managing Director, clearly setting out the issues and offering practical and affordable solutions. These are listed below and are based on direct experience in the new terminal and feedback from its customers:

• Very long distances to walk from check-in to the gate lounge (in excess of 400 metres) with only one moving walkway installed mainly for domestic passengers (provision has been made in the building structure for a second but AAL has not considered it warranted for regional passengers).

• Need to descend two floors via stairs (one lift is available) to the departure area and then along a narrow, fully enclosed metal walkway up two another 300 metres in length, which has extremely poor ventilation and no cooling – recent temperatures have exceeded 50 degrees Celsius in the walkways.

• Hot weather causes passenger-control doors in the walkways to expand jamming them shut and locking passengers inside confined, claustrophobic and unacceptably hot conditions.

• The walkways have no drainage and are subject to large run-off from the northern tarmac – we expect the walkways will flood during a downpour.

• Passengers arriving in Adelaide from a regional airport are required to also walk similar distances through the walkways to the terminal, undertake security screening, mount two floors via 42, 170mm stairs (or lift), then walk a further 400 metres to the central area of the terminal and then down two floor levels by escalator to collect their baggage and exit the terminal.

• Passengers are finding the inwards security screening overly aggressive and intrusive.

Rex has proposed practical solutions to the problems as follows:

• AAL immediately provide larger electric passenger buggies to shuttle passengers with difficulties from the departure concourse entrance to the regional gates and return. This has been flatly rejected by AAL.

• AAL immediately provide the second moving walkway in the northern concourse (there is provision in the terminal construction for this facility). AAL has maintained in the last two years that this service to regional passengers is not on their list of priorities.

• AAL arrange a tarmac bus transfer solution similar to that provided at Sydney Airport to transfer arriving regional passengers directly form their aircraft to an exit adjacent to the baggage collection hall – this solution would remove the need for inbound security screening and provide a far more effective service for regional passengers. The cost of providing the bus transfer service would be met from savings in inbound security screening.

• Providing the tarmac bus transfer service would then allow the covered walkways to be opened up to a single walkway (rather than divided currently for inbound and outbound passengers) and made acceptable in terms of ventilation, temperature control, ambience and OHS.

Unfortunately Mr Baker’s response to these solutions has been far from satisfactory. There has been no commitment to introduce any of these measures and only agreement to examine the bus transfer option over time.

“Rex remains very concerned about the public health and safety issues associated with the long distances to walk and the covered walkways. Many Rex passengers travel to and from Adelaide Airport for medical reasons. Many are elderly and incapacitated. The number of our customers requesting special wheelchair assistance has quadrupled in recent weeks – and this is our quietest period of the year.”

“Accordingly we have advised AAL that unless there is urgent action to rectify the problems Rex will consult with all its regional stakeholders to determine the best way forward. The option of returning to the old terminal will be seriously considered if that is what our passengers want,” Mr Breust said.

“Rex has now formally taken the issue to the South Australian Government and we have written to the Premier and appropriate Ministers seeking their assistance in overcoming these problems.”

“We have also taken the matter up with the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services to see if there is anything the Commonwealth can do given that the airport is on Commonwealth land and the Minister approves the airport’s Master Plan.

“It is obvious from the design of the $260 million terminal that regional travellers have been intentionally disadvantaged at the expense of international and domestic travellers. AAL has forgotten that many of its stakeholders are also the mums and dads who use the airport primarily for medical reasons and for visiting friends and family. It is a disgrace that they have been treated with such contempt. We call on all regional users to contact their representatives to stand up for their right not to be treated like an outcast in their own airport.” Mr Breust said.

to read about what SA travellers have to endure.