In­quiry into re­gional air routes will take flight

Balonne Beacon - - NEWS - Joshua Macree

THE Se­nate has be­gun its in­quiry into ru­ral and re­gional air routes, spark­ing var­i­ous re­ac­tions from key com­mu­nity mem­bers in the south west.

This comes af­ter a lo­cal out­cry over the re­li­a­bil­ity of flights in the south west, with Charleville Mayor An­nie Lis­ton lead­ing the charge.

The in­quiry will fo­cus on the so­cial and eco­nomic im­pacts of the flight routes trav­elled by Qan­tas and REX.

The Ru­ral and Re­gional Af­fairs and Trans­port Com­mit­tee is ex­pected to re­port back to the Se­nate in March 2018.

State Mem­ber for War­rego Ann Leahy said the de­ci­sion would give peo­ple a greater say on the mat­ter.

“The Se­nate in­quiry will en­able peo­ple to for­ward their is­sues in terms of the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment as it is this reg­u­la­tory frame­work that is ham­per­ing avi­a­tion de­vel­op­ment in re­gional Queens­land,” she said.

Ms Leahy stressed the im­por­tance of peo­ple voic­ing their con­cerns via the sub­mis­sion process.

“The Se­nate en­quiry needs to re­ceive sub­mis­sions and they need to be in­vited to visit the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“I’m hop­ing that we can high­light the prob­lems we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and what the po­ten­tial so­lu­tions are as well. Rather than spend­ing tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars, we can change reg­u­la­tion to give a much bet­ter out­come and more re­li­able flight ser­vice to towns such as Charleville.”

St Ge­orge business owner Tony Griegg ques­tioned whether an in­crease in flights would be vi­able.

“It’s all well and good to pro­vide ser­vices. But what you’ve got to look at is whether these ser­vices are be­ing utilised,” he said.

“When you con­sider the cost of putting a com­mer­cial plane in the air and you have a sin­gle pas­sen­ger, there might not be much point in ex­tend­ing the num­ber of flights.

“In terms of pric­ing, we all want to see 99-cent air­fares but we also need air­lines to con­tinue to pros­per.”

Mara­noa Re­gional coun­cil­lor, Cameron O’ Neil said he was happy that res­i­dents could have a say on the mat­ter.

“Coun­cil has not dis­cussed this yet but as chair I wel­come the in­quiry to en­sure that there is an ap­pro­pri­ate way that com­mu­ni­ties in re­gional Queens­land that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing high prices for air­fares can put their case for­ward to look at this is­sue,” he said.

“Roma is in a unique po­si­tion given that the peak fi­nan­cial pe­riod of 2013–14 has al­lowed us to in­vest rev­enue into our air­port and see a large num­ber of flights each week.”

Ms Leahy in­vites all in­ter­ested par­ties to sent their sub­mis­sions to https://se­nate.aph.gov.au/ or via email to rrat.sen@aph.gov.au.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

JUST LANDED: Re­gional air routes and prices will be ex­am­ined in a new Se­nate in­quiry.

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