Call to lower airport fees
Pressure is being piled on WA local governments to reduce airport charges as submissions from industry and government agencies into the impact of expensive airfares continue in Perth.
Qantas domestic chief executive Andrew David sent a message last week as he announced a discounted airfares trial, calling on other local governments to follow Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s lead in reducing airport charges.
Chamber of Minerals and Energy acting chief executive Nicole Roocke and Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel have each called for charges to be reviewed as well.
Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price said local governments should revisit their pricing structures.
“I understand regional airports are walking a tightrope by trying to be profitable while remaining competitive,” she said.
“But I would encourage all my regional airports to be as efficient and effective as possible in terms of service delivery because it is always better for local governments to be part of the solution, not the problem.”
The calls come despite the parliamentary inquiry into regional airfare prices telling a recent forum in Karratha that local government charges only accounted for a small proportion of airfares.
Shire of Ashburton president Kerry White said Onslow Airport would not be sustainable without reasonable fees to cover costs such as bagging and passenger screening, licences, and aircraft and people movement.
“The Shire of Ashburton contends that by far the biggest costs associated with a ticket between Perth and the Pilbara relates to the direct costs charged by the airlines, which the local government has no control over,” she said.
Shire of Exmouth commercial and community executive manager Matt Bird said without high volumes of aircraft and passengers, it would be difficult to reduce landing fees.
“In the 2017-18 budget adopted last month, the Shire of Exmouth did not increase landing fees,” he said. “We understand that having regular flights in and out of Exmouth on jet aircraft is vital to our local tourism industry and we are working closely with aviation stakeholders to secure Exmouth’s RPT and heliport operations for the long term.”
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said it was difficult to see how a reduction in landing fees would translate to significantly lower airfares.
“If the City reduced its charges by 10 per cent to match Qantas, this would equate to approximately $3.50 on the price of each ticket and there is no guarantee that a reduction in airport charges would be passed on to passengers,” he said.