Regional Express has set aside $1 million in funds to help ease the impact of “the worst drought to hit regional Australia in the last 50 years”.
The airline, which operates commercial flights, heavy maintenance and pilot training at Wagga Airport, announced on Thursday that it would establish the ‘REX Drought Relief Fund’.
“The fund will be available to all community groups working to alleviate the impact of the drought and will be in the form of $4 of travel on the Rex network for every $1 raised by the community groups,” the airline said in a statement.
“Small businesses that are providing assistance to victims of the drought will also be eligible.”
The airline will also offer passengers the chance to donate “to a nominated charity involved in the drought relief effort”.
REX deputy chair John Sharp said the companies thoughts and prayers were with those facing hardship because of the drought.
“REX has the largest network in regional and rural Australia with 60 destinations, and it behoves us to stand by our loyal regional customers in their time of greatest need.
“Just as in 2005-2007 when we similarly set up a drought relief fund of $2.5 million over three years, REX intends to extend its assistance beyond the current financial year should the drought continue, as long as Rex continues to trade profitably.”
Riverina MP and federal Transport Minister Michael McCormack praised the airline on social media.
“In the worst of times we see the best of Australians. Congratulations to REX for setting aside $1m for drought relief to regional Australia,” Mr McCormack stated.
Mr Sharp challenged other airlines and large corporations to “similarly stand in solidarity with our fellow Australians when they are suffering the most”.
“REX challenges them to follow our example by contributing at least 0.3 per cent of their turnover to drought relief,” he said.
“Should this happen, this will bring in over $1 billion in corporate contributions that, together with state and federal funding, could make a whole world of difference.”
Fuel retailer Caltex announced on Friday that it would donate $100,000 to Rural Aid and create “an ongoing drought assistance package to lend a hand to rural producers facing tough times in the drought affected areas of NSW and much of Queensland”.
The Commonwealh Bank, Coles, Woolworths, Westpac and NAB have all offered drought donations ranging from $50,000 to $2m.
Community groups and small businesses can apply for assistance from the REX Drought Relief Fund via the airline’s website.