SA’s largest regional airline says it is “disturbed and very angry” following comments made on regional radio by Adelaide Airport Limited (AAL) Managing Director Phil Baker over the airline’s concerns about regional facilities at Adelaide’s new airport.
According to an ABC web site transcript, Mr Baker said “… Rex’s impatience to get into the new facility may be the root of the problem … they (Rex) chose to move early so it’s a bit disingenuous the position they’ve taken.”
“These comments are just preposterous,” Rex’s Managing Director Geoff Breust said today.
“Mr Baker is trying to deflect his and AAL’s shortcomings by trying to blame us. This is very disappointing.”
Mr Breust demanded a public apology from Mr Baker or else an explanation to travellers and the public on how Rex’s move to the new terminal on 18 December had caused:
• The long distances to walk and the stairs to climb and descend
• The cattle crush design and construction of the tarmac covered walkways which have no ventilation, have drainage problems and can exceed 50 degrees Celsius on a hot day causing the exit doors to jam
• The need for security screening of regional passengers arriving in Adelaide (did this have anything to do with the desire for them to pass the retail shops on their way to the exit?)
• The lack of airport provided and manned internal buggy transfer system to ensure a reasonable service for the elderly, families with children and others requiring basic assistance.
“AAL had announced to all and sundry that the airport was completely ready on 15 October 2005. Although it had changed deadlines 4 times since then, there was never any question that everything was ready for occupation except for the fuel delivery system.”
“Our move on 18 December was in fact in response to a request by Mr Baker to move ahead of the rest. This would help AAL relieve the pressure the following week when the major domestic airlines were to move on 21 December. QantasLink similarly cooperated and moved on the same day as us.”
“Mr Baker’s attempts to deflect the blame show an element of desperation now that his disdain for the regional traveller has been exposed,” Mr Breust added.
“He is insulting the intelligence of the SA public if he thinks he can get away with such a ploy.
”At the end of the day the terminal was built without due regard to regional travellers and giving them last or no priority
Rex Chairman, Lim Kim Hai, has also announced that he would be having a private meeting with Mr Baker on Monday 13 February. He was flying in specially from Singapore to inspect the facilities for himself and to discuss the situation with Mr Baker.
“I will do whatever I can to ensure that regional SA gets the facilities and respect it deserves. I will also fly to Port Lincoln to join the town council in asking Mr Baker to explain the actions of AAL.”
Mr Lim called for the Chairman of AAL to take charge of the issue and take immediate action on behalf of the shareholders, customers and all stakeholders involved with Adelaide Airport.
Rex has posted on its website the complete details of AAL’s mistreatment of its regional passengers in a powerpoint presentation and can be assessed from tomorrow at http://www.rex.com.au/corp_info/mc_adlviews.aspx