Call to lower air­port fees

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

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.

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