The end of next month is firming as a date for the airline inquiry hearing in Cloncurry, Mayor Greg Campbell told the North West Star on our live Elevenses program from Cloncurry Airport on Tuesday.
“We got an update from (Inquiry head Senator) Barry O’Sullivan’s people and they’ve started to lock in some dates for Western Australia and the Northern Territory in early April,” Cr Campbell said. “Towards the end of April, we are thinking”.
The inquiry is officially looking into “the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities” and one of the most vocal champions for change in our region, Hamish Griffin, also spoke to the Star on Elevenses.
In his submission to the inquiry Mr Griffin said his pressure dated from a year ago when he wanted to take his family to Townsville and found out it would have cost him $4800 which was more expensive than flights from Sydney to Los Angeles on the same day.
“I don’t like people being taken advantage of especially in my own community,” Mr Griffin told the Star.
“As a family man and as a resident of Cloncurry it’s so expensive to go anywhere.”
Mr Griffin said he was concerned by the group submission from the airlines under the name “Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ)”.
“I refer to them as a cartel and they talk about airport charges as sometimes 30% of the ticket price, but that’s just not true,” he said.
“It’s excuse after excuse and none of them have been able to say the real reason why the flights are so expensive.”
Cr Campbell said the Cloncurry Shire submission highlighted facts about passenger taxes and landing fees in the Council-owned airport.
“That’s often given as one of the excuses but we are very clear and open about what those fees are and we have the same requirements as Brisbane and Townsville with security,” he said.
“Our fees are fixed regardless of the ticket price, so I don’t think that is an excuse.”
Cr Campbell said high fares were a “drawback” to the local economy.