AAA welcomes regional airfares inquiry recommendations

 

The Australian Airports Association (AAA) has welcomed a senate committee’s regional airfares inquiry recommendations, which recognise the importance of affordable airfares for people living and working in regional Australia.

AAA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said the findings identified the unique challenges communities faced to access affordable air services, and the rising cost of maintaining safe and compliant regional airport operations.

“The committee has heard just how difficult it is for communities to access affordable air services when the economies of scale do not exist to promote competition and choice for passengers,” Ms Wilkie said.

“The committee has confirmed airport charges make up a small portion or airfares, consistent with the Productivity Commission’s recent draft findings and the conclusions of the WA Government’s inquiry into regional airfares.

“We welcome the committee’s recommendations and support the need for an open and transparent approach to how regional airfares are determined.”

Ms Wilkie said the committee had made a number of sensible recommendations relating to the funding and purchasing power of regional airports.

“The AAA fully supports the committee’s call for a detailed financial analysis of the impact of changing government security requirements on regional airports.

“While the industry is absolutely committed to ensuring we continue to provide a safe and secure aviation network for the travelling public, we must acknowledge the significant financial strain changing requirements are placing on already struggling regional airports.

“A thorough analysis of the ongoing security costs at regional airports, followed by a pragmatic review of how changing requirements are funded, will help ensure a smooth transition to new arrangements for our regions.”

Ms Wilkie said the committee had identified the need for appropriate government funding for essential maintenance and upgrades at regional airports.

“New regional airport funding announced by the Federal Government this year has been a huge step forward for the industry and will save some regional airports from closure,” Ms Wilkie said.

“The committee has highlighted the importance of sustainable and long-term regional airport funding and we look forward to further discussion on how to best meet these needs beyond the current funding cycle.”

The findings form part of the report on the inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities.

The inquiry was led by the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee.

ENDS

11 June 2019

 

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