Pilbara residents air their views on WA flight strategy

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
A Virgin flight landing at Karratha Airport.
Camera IconA Virgin flight landing at Karratha Airport. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

Representatives from Virgin and Qantas fronted up to local stakeholders in Karratha last week at a workshop designed to facilitate discussions on the draft State Aviation Strategy.

The workshop, hosted by the Department of Transport Aviation Team, included participants from the City, small businesses, resources sector and tourism operators who all raised the issue of the price of airfares.

Pilbara Tourism Association chairman Barry Harrison said price gouging was the big concern for all in attendance.

“We explained to the airlines that mining companies pay one price and the rest of us give to six times more,” he said.

In general, the stakeholders seemed far more impressed with Virgin, as even with Qantas’ 30 per cent discount resident fare, the flights are almost always more expensive.

“We’d really like to see a bit of transparency around the pricing given the variation between the two carriers,” Mr Harrison said.

The topic of the $179 flights to Broome was also raised, with Qantas admitting the flight deals had been a huge success.

“I don’t see why we can’t do the same thing here. We might not pull the same volume but a cheaper fare will open up the tourism industry, especially for weekend travel,” Mr Harrison said.

A Department of Transport spokesman said the State Government was committed to implementing the actions arising from the Parliamentary Inquiry into Regional Airfares.

“Our main focus is the unregulated air routes in Western Australia,” he said.

“The feedback collected from community members and stakeholders will inform decisions on the policy approach to each regional route and identify longer term recommendations in the draft State Aviation Strategy.”

A new State Aviation Strategy is expected to be released in 2020.

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