As we have flagged in recent weeks, the federal Senate is conducting an inquiry into the high cost of air fares in regional areas.
Parliament has asked the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee to provide a report by March 30, 2018 into “the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities.”
The inquiry will look at social and economic impacts of air route supply and airfare pricing, policy and pricing frameworks, how airlines determine fare pricing, airport charges, subsidies, regulated routes and residents' fares, airline competition, aircraft supply and CASA charges.
The inquiry comes not a moment too soon.
Frankly the big airlines Qantas and Virgin have treated our area with contempt, a bunch of country yokels for them to squeeze as much money as possible out of their price-gouging.
It shows in their treatment of this newspaper, with Qantas point-blank refusing to allow us interview key staff about the issue while they and Virgin dole out corporate waffle in lieu of a genuine explanation why fares are so high.
In the early new year we will be collating all the articles we have written on the topic as the basis for a submission to the inquiry and we will be seeking input from the public.
What experiences have you had booking flights in and out of our region?
Let us know and we will add it to our pile.
It is worth noting that the Western Australian parliament has already considered the matter and found airline industry pricing was “notoriously complex and opaque”.
That inquiry received considerable testimony that used terms like “price gouging”, “market failure”, “duopoly” and stated that routes lacked competition.
It also found the airlines resisted providing information to help the committee draw conclusions about the reasonableness of fares.
That sounds very familiar to our experience too.
These arrogant fatcats in Virgin and Qantas senior management need to be taught a lesson that passengers are more important than their precious bonuses – Derek Barry