Airlines to canvass ideas on cheaper regional flights
QANTAS and Virgin have agreed to come back with ideas on how they can lower the cost of regional air fares.
The cheapest Qantas tickets on sale yesterday for a late afternoon flight from Rocky to Brisbane today were $169, while a morning flight on the same airline would have set you back $260.
Virgin's best deal tomorrow for a flight to Brisbane was $310.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten met with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Virgin CEO John Borghetti to discuss the high cost of airfares in regional Queensland.
The meetings were held after Mr Shorten heard the impact of high regional airfares at town hall meetings held across regional Queensland earlier this year, including in Rockhampton.
"I refuse to throw my hands up in the air and say nothing can be done about the exorbitant cost of regional airfares,” Mr Shorten said.
"I believe people living in regional Queensland should be able to access affordable air travel.
"My meetings last week with the CEOs of Qantas and Virgin were encouraging and they undertook to go away and work up some proposals to help reduce the cost of regional air travel.
Mr Shorten also expressed disappointment that JetGo had gone into voluntary receivership.
"There is no easy solution to this issue but I am determined to keep the pressure on to make sure that air travel for regional Queenslanders, including Rocky locals, is as accessible and affordable as possible,” he said.
Federal Labor Candidate for Capricornia, Russell Robertson, said expensive regional flights "frustrated the hell out of locals”.
"It was at the town hall held in Rocky earlier in the year that spurred Bill into action,” he said.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said as someone who regularly flew in CQ, she was only too aware of how expensive flights have got.
"We are currently operating a Senate Enquiry, investigating the industry and solutions for high prices,” she said.
"I myself have lobbied the airlines - the only ones with any actual say in the prices - and we have since seen cheaper Residents Fares made available for Moranbah residents.”
A spokesperson for Virgin Australia said the airline was committed to providing consistent and reliable services throughout their regional flight network in Queensland.
"Airline pricing on any given route is driven by a combination of factors, including demand, how close the date of booking is to the date of travel, competitive activity, seasonality, operating costs and third party costs such as airport pricing and taxes,” the spokesperson said.
A Qantas spokesperson said there are a range of factors that make regional flights more expensive than flights between capital cities, including higher airport charges.
Airport Committee Chair Councillor Neil Fisher said it was not down to high airport charges at Rockhampton that led to higher prices.
"They are among the lowest because we deliberately charge the airlines on a cost recovery basis only as a way for council to minimise the pressure on ticket prices,” Cr Fisher said.