LOCAL leaders have demanded Rex issue an immediate apology to a visiting cardiologist rebuked by the airline’s chairman during a public relations crash-landing last week.
Leading Sydney cardiologist Dr Charles Thorburn has threatened to boycott Rex and end his 20-year relationship with Griffith after a valid complaint letter to the airline’s Singapore-based boss was met with an “arrogant and offensive” response.
In a return letter bordering on high farce, a Rex employee – acting on instruction from chairman Lim Kim Hai – questioned and ridiculed Dr Thorburn, even asking if he offered refunds for heart patients who “do not get well after seeing you”.
The chairman also claimed Rex was “still much better than all the airlines in Australia and most of the
airlines in the world”.
The letter has evoked a furious response from local Rex customers, many taking to social media to upbraid
Mr Kim Hai and share their own horror stories about travelling with Griffith’s monopoly airline carrier.
Griffith mayor Mike Neville said the treatment of Dr Thorburn smacked of “sheer arrogance” and could jeopardise the city’s long-term relationship with Rex.
“For a company that espouses to be the best airline in Australia, the tone of this letter and the level of service they provide is disappointing,” Cr Neville said.
“It’s a pretty shabby way to treat a doctor who has been a servant of this community for more than 20 years.
“The letter smacks of sheer arrogance and I imagine the Australian-based directors of the company would be embarrassed.”
Griffith Business Chamber president Paul Pierotti said council’s “cozy relationship” with Rex over the years contributed to the company’s attitude.
“This is not an isolated incident and we know of several stories equally as bad as this,” Mr Pierotti said.
“It’s obvious that Rex is incapable of providing high-level
“Dr Thorburn deserves a full and immediate apology.”
But in a brief written response to The Area News on Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman said the company stood by its treatment of Dr Thorburn.
Chairman of the local heart support group Norm Murphy said Griffith could ill-afford to lose a cardiologist of Dr Thorburn’s calibre.
“He is a leading cardiologist with St Vincent’s and one of only two cardiologists who come here. The service he provides is absolutely invaluable,” Mr Murphy said.
“So many people depend on him, especially those with pacemakers, and instead of allowing him to be stuffed around by an airline, we should be falling over ourselves to get him here.”