Mount Isa Airport owners defend its charges

Isa Airport owners QAL say their airport fees are "five to 10 percent" not the 30 percent quoted by the airlines.
Isa Airport owners QAL say their airport fees are "five to 10 percent" not the 30 percent quoted by the airlines.

Owners of Mount Isa Airport, Queensland Airports Ltd have told the air fares inquiry their charges are less than a third of what the airlines are claiming they are.

QAL who own Mount Isa and Longreach airports as well as Gold Coast and Townsville were invited to speak at the Longreach hearing on April 10.

QAL’s general manager, corporate relations Lucy Ardern told the hearing their focus was on increasing the volume of passengers which delivered the greatest benefits to rural, regional and remote communities.

“As part of our emphasis on expanding existing and new air markets, we continually liaise with our airline partners regarding potential new routes in and out of our four airports,” Ms Ardern said.

“We understand the significance these towns and cities place on not only regular air links but affordable air links.”

In their submission the airlines claimed that airport fees were a large part of the reason – up to 30 per cent of the total cost, they said, why air fares were expensive in regional areas but Ms Ardern disputed this.

“It is important to put these airport charges in context because they actually represent a small portion of each airfare,” she said. “Typically, we're talking about five per cent to 10 per cent.”

Typically, we're talking about five per cent to 10 per cent.

Lucy Ardern

Ms Ardern said airport charges were derived from the operating and capital costs of delivering and updating airport infrastructure that is necessary and, in some cases, legally required.

“Therefore, before any airport redevelopments can occur, it is necessary to finalise airport charge agreements with the major airlines so that funding for this capital investment can be secured,” she said.

“It's appropriate to also highlight the value of airports themselves to these regional and remote communities. Airports are important assets and are highly valued by the communities where they operate. They make a significant contribution on many levels, particularly economic, delivering much-needed jobs and investment.”

QAL agreed to an inquiry request to provide empirical data that measures loadings at their airport but only if it was not made public.