Almost two years after it formed the Senate Inquiry committee has handed down its final report but it seems cheaper flights seem as far away as ever for people in North West Queensland.
The Inquiry into "the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities" has handed down nine recommendations, including, wait for it, a call for another inquiry.
The first recommendation is for the federal government to direct the Productivity Commission to undertake a standalone, public inquiry into domestic airfares on routes to and between regional centres in Australia.
"The inquiry should, via a detailed economic analysis, investigate the feasibility of increasing operational subsidies and introducing other price control alternatives to address the high cost of regional airfares," the Inquiry said.
"The inquiry should consult with regional communities to determine whether additional routes should be subject to regulation."
They also recommended the Productivity Commission expand its terms of reference the economic regulation of airports, to investigate the social and economic impacts of air route supply and airfare pricing on rural, regional and remote Australia.
Other recommendations including looking at the increasing costs of security screening at regional airports, a reviewing the funding of regional and remote aerodrome infrastructure and maintenance, asking COAG to develop a nationally consistent framework for regulated routes across Australia.
The one recommendation that did actually address fare prices was also for COAG to "leverage each state's purchasing power...to expand access for regional communities to initiatives such as community and compassionate fares, particularly for 'last minute' flights".
The committee said the framework should be developed in consultation with airlines to encourage greater transparency around the operation of such fares, and consider the feasibility of allowing residents in regional, rural and remote areas to access subsidised airfares through online purchasing.
The inquiry noted the committee received considerable evidence from the residents of Mount Isa and other regional Queensland centres.
The inquiry heard sessions in Cloncurry and Mount Isa and also heard from the major airlines including Qantas.
Cloncurry cheaper fares advocate Hamish Griffin said he was disappointed there was no recommendation for more regulated routes or capped fares.
"If I can find any positives in the findings would be additional funding for security services in regional airport which I hope would see less pass through costs to passengers and a call for some transparency in current regulated routes and the rendering process," Mr Griffin said.
"I call on the Queensland Labor Government to make public their reports on regulated routes in regional Australia."
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