Airfare inquiry a ‘massive win’ for WA: PRC

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
Karratha Airport.
Camera IconKarratha Airport. Credit: Pilbara News

The State Government inquiry into the price of regional WA airfares may have failed to find out whether or not fares are reasonable, but it has succeeded in other areas, according to several stakeholders.

Pilbara Regional Council chief executive Tony Friday said the report was a win for regional WA.

“It makes the case that prices are higher then any-where else, that these fares significantly and adversely affect the lives of regional West Australians, and that the resources industry receives tax incentives and benefits that no other industry or small business gets,” he said.

“Not only is this a massive win for regional Western Australia, but it is a major loss to those who made the case that airfares are set by demand and supply, and that airport fees are too high.

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“The inquiry report flat out rejects these claims, stating they received no evidence of unreasonable local government area fees, that it was difficult to justify high prices sold to the community, and most importantly, that airlines offer discounts to the community off their highest rates, so that community pays more than FIFO employers, even during sales.”

VideoIt comes just days ahead of an inquiry into regional airfares.

A Virgin Australia spokeswoman said the airline welcomed the report.

“Virgin Australia supports strong competition in aviation in Western Australia and will continue to focus on offering competitive air travel through our operations there.

“We will also be available for further consultation and collaboration while the Western Australian government considers its response to the recommendations of the inquiry.

“Virgin Australia’s responses to the inquiry provided a comprehensive view of our flight operations and commercial practices in Western Australia.”

The spokeswoman said the response to its residents fare trial had been positive to date.

Australian Airports Association chief executive Caroline Wilkie said she welcomed the findings landing fees constituted a small component of the total cost of regional airfares.

It’s also pleasing to see the efforts of some airports to proactively fix or reduce charges in support of their local communities acknowledged by the committee,” she said.

“It’s disappointing that a lack of transparency from airlines has made it difficult for the committee to draw conclusions on whether the airlines are setting fair prices for people living and working in regional WA.”

A Qantas spokeswoman said the carrier had actively participated in the inquiry, but could not disclose some information in a public forum for commercial reasons.

“We’re reviewing the findings of the report and will continue to provide the Government with updates on the proactive steps we’ve been taking to make air travel more affordable for residents in regional Australia,” she said.

“A key theme of our submissions covered the economics of air travel to these regional communities, which can be severely impacted by their remoteness, levels of demand and high operating costs and high regional airport charges.”

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