Qantas to participate in parliamentary airfare inquiry

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser

Broome International Airport boss Paul McSweeney said he respects a State Government move to hold an inquiry into the high cost of airfares in regional WA.

The Economics and Industry Standing Committee will report on factors contributing to the high cost of regional airfares and provide recommendations on how to limit costs.

Mr McSweeney said internal research indicated BIA was ranked the fourth cheapest of all regional airports in WA and the NT on a per passenger basis in 2016/17.

He said the BIA understood the importance of flights to and from the North West and prided itself on keeping its aeronautical fees competitive.

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“The airport is very proud of this fact, particularly given high operating costs in this region, and it played a large role in the airport securing airlines into Broome moving forward,” Mr McSweeney said.

The BIA chief executive said difference in economies of scale made it difficult to compare fares on the Perth-Broome route, which carries about 300,000 passengers per year, to higher volume destinations in other parts of Australia.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the probe would also focus on the impact high airfares have on business, tourism and social life in regional areas.

“It’s an issue that has afflicted small businesses, tourism operators and local people in regional Western Australia for many years,” he said.

“A parliamentary inquiry has the power to shine a spotlight on this issue, get to the bottom of why these fares are so expensive and give airlines the opportunity to provide solutions.”

The final report will evaluate actions the State Government, local government and regional airlines can take to limit increases to airfares.

A Qantas spokesperson said the government had previously flagged its position regarding the inquiry.

“The Qantas Group will participate and is focused on a constructive dialogue that covers both the costs and the challenges specific to intra-WA routes,” the spokesperson said.

There are a number of factors that contribute to how airlines determine fare pricing including airport charges for landing and security fees, aircraft type, competitor activity and demand.

It is not accurate to simply use distance as a factor in the determination of air fare pricing as it has a lot do with economies of scale.

The per kilometre cost for smaller aircraft on thinner routes is significantly higher, which is reflected in the pricing.

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