AIR TRAVEL PRICE SET TOO HIGH

Res­i­dents forced to use dis­tant air­ports due to soar­ing flight costs

Central Queensland News - - FRONT PAGE - Kris­ten Booth Kris­ten.Booth@cqnews.com.au

YOU of­ten hear city com­muters com­plain that traf­fic turns what should be a five-minute drive into a half-hour night­mare.

Well, they should spare a thought for Mo­ran­bah res­i­dents who, in­stead of tak­ing a five-minute drive to the lo­cal air­port, are be­ing forced to drive more than two hours to Mackay or Proser­pine to then catch a near two-hour flight to Bris­bane.

The re­gional town is see­ing flight prices over $1000 re­turn Mo­ran­bah to Bris­bane and some days, over $1000 one-way.

When you con­sider re­turn flights from Bris­bane to New York cost less there is no won­der res­i­dents are up in arms.

Mo­ran­bah res­i­dent Michelle Hen­der­son trav­els reg­u­larly through­out the year for both work and leisure with her fam­ily, and has been forced to travel to var­i­ous air­ports to beat the high prices at her lo­cal air­port.

“I re­ally don’t think th­ese prices are acceptable, when I have flown from Mackay to Mel­bourne at a price of $436,” she said.

“I have flown from Proser­pine and Mackay, which still ends up cheaper, even pay­ing for fuel and park­ing.

“In Novem­ber (2017), I flew from Proser­pine to Bris­bane for $220 re­turn.”

Mrs Hen­der­son said she didn’t know why prices were soar­ing when a re­turn flight from Bris­bane, which cost close to $1000, had fewer than 10 peo­ple on board.

“I re­ally do not un­der­stand why the prices for all flights are so high, when last week, with a $990 re­turn flight, the in­ward leg to Bris­bane had seven peo­ple on it,” Mrs Hen­der­son said.

“In the last few months I have had prices rang­ing from $991 and $396, at an av­er­age price of $662.”

Late last year, Qan­tas an­nounced a 10-30 per cent dis­count for all Mo­ran­bah res­i­dents on re­turn flights from Mo­ran­bah on a 12-month trial ba­sis.

“It would still make the flights dou­ble that of Mackay or Proser­pine but any­thing is bet­ter than now,” Mrs Hen­der­son said.

To ac­cess the dis­counted fares, res­i­dents need to be mem­bers of the Qan­tas Fre­quent Flyer pro­gram, which au­to­mat­i­cally links to their res­i­den­tial ad­dress.

The usual join­ing fee of $89.50 is be­ing waived for Mo­ran­bah res­i­dents.

Pres­i­dent of the Mo­ran­bah Traders As­so­ci­a­tion Tre­han Sten­ton said the dis­count would be great for res­i­dents but wouldn’t re­ally ben­e­fit the busi­nesses.

“A lot of the prob­lems oc­cur­ring are with short-term book­ings,” he said.

“If you have to travel in the next cou­ple of days, that’s when it’s the most ex­pen­sive.

“For busi­nesses try­ing to bring in peo­ple to fix or ser­vice things for emer­gen­cies, you are still go­ing to be pay­ing those high fares any­way.

“If I’m mak­ing last minute book­ings, I’m al­ways go­ing to travel out of Mackay to give me bet­ter avail­abil­ity and bet­ter pric­ing.

“It’s an ex­tra two-hour drive and you still have to pay for park­ing, but it’s still cheaper than try­ing to fly out of Mo­ran­bah.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

SOAR­ING COSTS: Mo­ran­bah Res­i­dents, in­clud­ing Colin Frost, are out of pocket due to the high flight prices.

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