The long-awaited federal Senate Inquiry report into expensive flights in rural and regional areas was released on the weekend and it is no stretch to say its conclusions are underwhelming.
The 200-page report came out with nine recommendations, the first of which was for the Productivity Commission to undertake a standalone public inquiry into domestic airfares on regional routes.
It's appalling that in an inquiry costing millions of dollars and lasting two years, the first recommendation is another inquiry.
This recommendation is probably what should have happened in the first place as the Productivity Commission does have the power to make good policy recommendations based on sound economic principles. But any new inquiry will likely take another two years to unfold, while locals continue to pay a high price.
The inquiry heard testimony from dozens of people about how the airlines were scamming them making them pay exorbitant prices to get from Mount Isa or Cloncurry to the coast when it would have been cheaper to fly to Los Angeles.
Yet the committee chose to believe the soothing words of the airlines over the anguished cries of consumers.
"Based on the evidence before it," they wrote,"the committee could not form the view that there was 'price gouging' or other market manipulation taking place by airlines operating in regional areas."
So no direct recommendations forcing the airlines to cap fares or shine a light on their opaque dynamic pricing.
There was a good recommendation to look at who should pay for the increasing costs of security screening at regional airports, and also for COAG to look at community and compassionate fares.
But on the whole the Inquiry just ended has been a damp squid.
North West Queensland remains at the whim of the major airlines who are doing well at our expense.
Looking on Wednesday for return flights to Brisbane on the weekend, the cheapest Qantas price down on Friday is $707 while the cheapest flight back on Sunday is $652 for a $1359 return. Yet on the same day I could find a flight from Brisbane to Dublin, Ireland on Emirates Airlines for just $1308. Go figure - Derek Barry