Stop the regional airfares rip off


The Australian Airports Association (AAA) is calling for an end to airline secrecy on high regional airfares.

AAA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said a deeper look into how domestic airfares are set was urgently needed to bring an end to the regional airfare rip off.

“People living in regional Queensland should not have to pay more to get to Brisbane than the cost of a flight to South East Asia or New Zealand,” Ms Wilkie said.

“People living and working in the regions are facing real and significant financial challenges when they need to travel for medical appointments, boarding school or family events.

“They’ve been left high and dry by airlines like Qantas, which is slugging regional residents as much as $800 for a ‘discount’ return fare to their nearest capital city.

“That is unreasonable, unfair and simply doesn’t pass the pub test.”

The recent senate committee inquiry into regional airfares was frustrated by a lack of transparency by domestic airlines and the committee called for an open and transparent approach to how regional airfares are determined in its report.

The committee recommended a standalone public inquiry on the determinants of domestic airfares on regional routes, and the AAA supports that position

The senate committee’s report echoes the findings of a Western Australian parliamentary committee into the high cost of regional airfares in Western Australia which was delivered in late 2017.

“Local residents have a right to know what they’re paying for when they book a flight and the fact that airlines don’t want to tell them should be cause for concern,” Ms Wilkie said.

“The airlines must be compelled to show us why a ‘discount’ return flight from Mount Isa to Brisbane can really cost as much as $800.

“Real solutions for regional Australia can only be found when airlines finally lift the veil of secrecy.”

The issue of airfare affordability has been a significant concern for many communities in regional and remote Australia, which rely heavily on air travel to connect them with our major cities.

These services are essential for driving economic growth in the regions, as well as providing regional residents access to basic needs such as specialist healthcare.

The senate committee report found regional airport charges “…constitute a reasonably small portion of airfares” and “the committee was not able to agree with some assertions made—particularly by airlines—that local councils are using airport usage charges as a way to generate excessive revenue”.

By contrast, the committee noted airlines refused to provide the necessary information to explain exactly how airfare pricing is determined.

The committee’s report has been provided to Government for consideration, and the AAA has called for swift action to adopt the committee’s recommendations.


16 September 2019


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