$570 one-way flights coax Rocky council's intervention call
ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council has called for government intervention in specific route fares and creation of new flight paths in a submission to the senate's regional aviation inquiry.
The submission from Rockhampton Airport was endorsed by councillors at the first general meeting of the year on Tuesday and concludes that government subsidies and regulation will be needed in the future to help regional areas compete with their metropolitan counterparts.
The submission reflected on the service reductions and schedule adjustments at Rockhampton Airport that have led to "capacity squeeze", especially on the Brisbane to Rockhampton route.
This, along with congestion at Brisbane Airport is creating "extreme airfare price pressure at short notice or peak period travel times" for Central Queenslanders.
"Airfares are peaking in excess of $570.00 one way occurring during periods of high demand and it must be noted that airfares during sale periods can average $99.00 one way," the submission states.
"While from an airline perspective current yield and route performance is strong, the cost of airfares at the higher end of the pricing fare ladder, are creating negative social and economic impacts to the region's community."
Morning Bulletin readers expressed their concern over the price of fares on Facebook.
JA Passmore, who flies between Moranbah and Brisbane every 10 days, wrote there were no discounts because flights were full on that route.
"Moranbah to Brisbane still costs over $600 one way that is more than three times the cost of Rockhampton to Brisbane," they said.
Catherine Smith said without the patient travel subsidy helping her travel from Emerald to Brisbane she would be dead.
"No way I could afford flights every three months to Brisbane," she said.
The submission acknowledges that low cost carriers and cheap fares has skewed perceptions of aviation costs.
But where the airline business model has changed overall, regional areas have missed out on low cost carriers as they rely on high volumes of passengers.
The submission is critical of the State Government's lack of interest in establishing an east-west link between Rockhampton and remote western towns.
It is noted that people from those western regions are increasingly being forced to the south east or north for medical and education when traditionally towns like Emerald, Barcaldine, Blackall, Longreach and Winton should be linked with Rockhampton.
"There is absolute viability in a route such as this, creating benefits to each of these historical Queensland towns in regional economic development," the submission states.
"To regulate and subsidise a route such as this would ensure airline partners can operate with surety of return and small to medium size regional airports do not have to forgo revenue to establish a vital link.
"These communities are intrinsically connected to each other and once again it quite simply makes sense to establish a regulated route in this area of Queensland for the future prosperity of the state.
"Government subsidisation and regulation will be required on a broader basis to specific destinations in the future if regional communities are going to grow and remain an attractive proposition compared to the metropolitan centres.
"Regional airports are vital community assets that drive economic growth and prosperity, while providing links to other regional centres and state capitals.
"Airline pricing can significantly impact accessibility to regional and remote communities and should be viewed on an open and transparent basis."