Qantas has committed to cutting the cost of some regional fares with a new discounted fares program.
The airline will invest up to $10 million each year to provide flight discounts for residents in 16 towns across Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, capping the maximum cost for regional residents to visit the nearest capital city at $400.
The discounted fares program applies in selected regional towns where residents compete with a very high proportion of corporate travel or are impacted by their remoteness.
The initial rollout of the program expansion will happen immediately in Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Karratha and Kalgoorlie. Regional airports and councils in these towns have committed to reducing the fees they charge each passenger, which are built into airfares.
The airline is also consulting with airports in Moranbah, Roma, Charleville, Broome, Port Hedland, Newman, Paraburdoo, Alice Springs and Yulara (Ayers Rock), calling on them to implement similar fee reductions.
The national carrier’s commitment comes after a recent federal senate inquiry into outback airfares revealed widespread consumer disapproval on the price of flights.
The senate received more than 150 submissions for first-hand experiences from across the country, with various complainants accusing airlines of providing four-figure return flights from regional Australia.
One complainant, Queensland resident Hamish Griffin, collected evidence of Qantas plane tickets between Cloncurry and Brisbane costing more than $1,500 return.
“We have been out to visit regional communities to listen to their concerns and those raised through the Senate Inquiry into regional airfares, and we are responding,” Qantas domestic CEO Andrew David said.
“The maximum residents in these towns will pay is around $400 per sector, or around $800 return.
“There are some fundamental realities about the costs of operating regional services that we can’t change, particularly to remote parts of the country, but we are making this commitment and investment to assist residents in these towns.”
David said more than 20,000 return trips had been booked using the resident fare discounts since 2017, but many locals were not using the dedicated resident fare website and wound up paying more than they should.
“We’d like to see more residents take advantage of the savings which apply to every seat on every flight to the nearest capital city. Booking through our dedicated resident fare website is the only way to get special fares for locals, including the extra savings we are now making available,” he said.