PM vows to tackle re­gional air­fares

Pilbara News - - News - Tay­lar Amonini and Tom Zaun­mayr

Dereg­u­lat­ing air routes to lower flight prices in re­gional WA has been placed on the agenda by Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull.

On a trip to the North West last week, Mr Turn­bull said he would dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of dereg­u­lat­ing do­mes­tic air routes to al­low more com­pe­ti­tion into the mar­ket.

Mr Turn­bull’s com­ment comes as the State Gov­ern­ment in­quiry into the cost of re­gional air­fares hits the road to host public hear­ings, in­clud­ing in Kar­ratha, this month. WA Pre­mier Mark McGowan said open­ing up air routes to more com­pe­ti­tion could lead to re­duced ser­vices.

“It has been talked about for­ever and I am gen­er­ally in favour of hav­ing more com­pe­ti­tion,” he said.

“How­ever, the prob­lem has al­ways been in the WA con­text, with very low vol­ume routes and large dis­tances, that a dereg­u­lated sys­tem may re­sult in less ser­vices rather than more.”

Mr McGowan said com­pe­ti­tion from for­eign air­lines in the do­mes­tic mar­ket could threaten the vi­a­bil­ity of Aus­tralian car­ri­ers. There have also been some calls for the in­quiry to in­ves­ti­gate the mer­its of reg­u­lat­ing flight prices, pos­si­bly through in­sti­ga­tion of a gov­ern­ment-pro­tected mo­nop­oly.

Du­rack MHR Melissa Price said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had no in­ten­tion to reg­u­late air­fares.

“Even if you book 12 months in ad­vance, you’ll be pay­ing $800. Now, I think that’s wrong,” she said.

Ms Price said Qan­tas and Vir­gin had told her they would work on re­duc­ing air­fares.

The Kar­ratha public hear­ing will be hosted on Au­gust 23.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Du­rack MHR Melissa Price.

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