Air contract to stay on track

THE State Government has poured cold water on talk that Qantas’ decision to suspend flights between Perth and Tokyo will affect bidding for the Government’s air service contract, which is up for renewal next year.

The domestic travel contract, currently shared between Business Travel International and American Express International, provides a booking service to find the most competitive airfares for ministers and government agency staff.

Neither the domestic air travel contract nor the international contract is up for renewal until late 2002, and the Department of Industry and Technology said it would not look to the market until some way into next year.

“This contract has been in place since 1997 and we’ll be working towards going back to the market in the middle of next year,” a department spokesperson said.

“Carriers and travel service providers would bid for it, depending on how we put it together, but I think it’s a pretty level playing field for everyone.”

Previously held by Ansett, the two travel service providers are allocated a number of government agencies and they can’t seek services outside the provider unless they can get a better deal.

“The contract is premised on the best fare on the day irrespective of which airline it is,” Business Travel International general manager Fred Allsopp said.

When the contract is up for tender again in October next year both “Ansett and Qantas will have the opportunity to get business out of this,” Mr Allsopp said.

The department denied the conflict that has arisen over the temporary cancellation of direct flights to Tokyo would influence Qantas’ bid for the contract in competition with other travel agencies, saying the department would go with the best deal for the state.

“We will put in place the contract which we think is getting the best deal for the state, both Ansett and Qantas have the opportunity to offer the best fare,” the department spokesperson said.


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