Cost of flights is ‘appalling’
The cost of airfares in and out of the Pilbara is appalling, Hedland airport chairwoman says.
Speaking at last week’s Hedland Economic and Resources Forum, Port Hedland International Airport Group of Companies chairwoman Cheryl Edwardes qualified her statement by saying she was making them as an airline customer, not as an airport executive.
“OK, let me take my airport hat off,” she said in response to a question from the forum audience.
“I can’t believe the price for an economy seat from Perth to Port Hedland. I think it’s appalling.
“Putting my airport hat on, those are some of the discussions that we are having (with airlines). If we can introduce competition, obviously that would also assist, but what we don’t want to do is have discussions which are likely to lose you services. “It’s a bit of a balancing trick.” Ms Edwardes’ comments come as communities across the Pilbara have been lobbying airlines and the State Government for lower airfares.
Last September, Newman resident Cyndy Williams started a petition calling for cheaper airfares, while Karratha secondary student Liam Payne travelled to State Parliament to read out a similar petition.
Pilbara Regional Council chief executive Tony Friday agreed with Ms Edwardes at the forum, saying he believed most flights from Perth to Hedland were operating at better capacities than similar flights on the east coast.
“I think there’s an element of profit-taking from a captive fly-in, flyout market that needs to be addressed,” he said. Qantas did not reply by deadline to
a Telegraph request for comment. A Virgin Australia spokeswoman said the airline did “not comment on the pricing of a particular route for commercial reasons”.
“However, it is driven by a number of factors, including market conditions, demand, operating costs and airport pricing and taxes,” she said.
Port Hedland councillors are to vote next month on whether to endorse a proposal to lease the airport to a private operator.