Fare compare idea flouted

Glenn Cordingley, Dylan Caporn and Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser

An idea touted by the public in Broome for a FuelWatch-style website for regional airfares was one of 13 recommendations to the State Government from a parliamentary inquiry into the high cost of country flying.

The inquiry, which received 122 submissions from across regional WA, also found if airlines reintroduced compassionate fares, they would reduce community outrage and make themselves “good corporate citizens”.

Broome Chamber of Commerce president Peter Taylor welcomed the results and said the focus on high airfares had motivated airlines to review their regional services.

“It is unsurprising that there is no comprehensive suite of solutions because this is such a complex issue,” he said.

“However, the focus on high airfares has stimulated the airlines to review their services to Broome and the regions.

“While Virgin have committed to continue 14 return Perth services throughout the summer season, Qantas have introduced discounted fares for locals.”

Dozens of the submissions to the inquiry highlighted the effect high airfares had on residents to fly to important family events such as funerals.

Inquiry chairwoman Jessica Shaw said the committee preferred if industry took steps to provide details and address concerns about airfares but if that was not achieved, the State Government could play a “limited” role in fixing the issue.

“Both the Qantas and Virgin websites offer comparative fares for a period of seven days around the departure date, but presently the consumer ‘has to wade through a lot of information to try to find out what the reality of prices to the destination of Broome are’,” the report said.

The report noted airlines used to offer compassionate fares to assist residents trying to travel at times of distress.

“If airlines were to proactively re-introduce these fares, this would be wholly consistent with good corporate citizenship and would likely assist to reduce community outrage,” it stated.

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