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.
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