01/09/2017 - 13:02

Qantas trials regional flight discounts

01/09/2017 - 13:02

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Qantas will conduct a 12-month trial of discounted airfares for six regional centres in Western Australia, following a similar move by Regional Express in July.

Qantas trials regional flight discounts

Qantas will conduct a 12-month trial of discounted airfares for six regional centres in Western Australia, following a similar move by Regional Express in July.

From November, Qantas will offer a variable discount of up to 30 per cent for residents in Broome, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Paraburdoo, Port Hedland and Newman to travel to Perth.

It comes after the state government this year launched a parliamentary inquiry into regional airfares, which is ongoing.

Qantas domestic chief executive Andrew David said the six towns were chosen because residents were competing with a very high volume of corporate travel from the resources industry.

"The reality is that the per-kilometre cost on a small aircraft is significantly higher than a larger aircraft that operates between major cities because the costs are divided by a much higher number of passengers," he said.

"These regional routes don't have the levels of demand needed to sustain a much larger aircraft and we want to maintain the frequency of services.

"We know the higher relative costs can be frustrating ... providing a discount for residents helps to offset some of these forces that can push fares on some flights to levels that become unaffordable."

The discounts, which will be available on all economy fares except for sale fares, will be limited to four return flights per person.

It will apply to the Qantas-controlled part of return fares, which excludes airport charges, security fees and GST, but Qantas is in discussions with regional airports and councils about further reducing charges.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder council has already agreed to reduce airport passenger charges, Mr David said.

The uptake and revenue impact of the scheme will be reviewed after one year.

It comes two months after Regional Express extended its partnership agreements with the City of Albany, the Shire of Esperance and Perth Airport for the provision of discounted airfares to those routes until 2020.

Rex provides 23 air services per week on the Perth-Albany route and 18 air services per week on the Perth-Esperance route under a five-year deed of agreement with the state government managed by the Department of Transport.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia acting chief executive Nicole Roocke welcomed the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s commitment today to reduce its airport passenger charges.

“CME encourages more regional airports and local governments to reduce their fees and charges to assist in the affordability of travel for local residents,” she said.

Premier Mark McGowan said Qantas’s decision was a positive step, and he encouraged other airlines to follow suit.

“The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder has offered further discounts to passengers travelling out of its airport and there is now an opportunity for other regional councils to come to the table and put in place similar arrangements,” he said.

“I commend Qantas for being first airline to tackle the issue of high airfares in regional WA. I’m pleased that Qantas has listened to people in regional WA, where the exorbitant cost of airfares has put travel out of reach for many.”

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Bradley Woods also welcomed the news, saying it was a genuine effort to respond to the needs of residents to travel to and from Perth.

“The fare announcement is similar to the AHA’s submission to the State Regional Aviation Inquiry where we called for ‘fair dinkum’ fares exclusively for Western Australian residents and the allocation of seats with guaranteed prices,” he said.

“There is potential through this initiative to increase the number of regional visitors from the north-west into Perth, which can only help hotels fill their rooms.”

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