City calls for Govt airfare subsidy

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

The City of Albany will call on the State Government to subsidise regional flights in a bid to reduce airfares, at today’s State parliamentary inquiry in Albany.

The inquiry, held by the Economics and Industry Standing Committee, will focus on uncovering the price structure of regional airfares and its impact on regional economies.

Flights from Albany to Perth range from $128-$326 with carrier Regional Express comparable to the cost of a flight from Perth to Bali on some budget airlines.

Chief executive Andrew Sharpe said the City would present a joint submission.

“The City of Albany has supported a joint submission from the WA Regional Capitals Alliance to the inquiry and one of the suggestions to reduce the average cost of airfares is for the State Government to consider introducing a regional passenger subsidy for the WA regional regulated transport flight routes,” he said. “Everyone would like to see cheaper airfares across regional WA, similar to the Eastern States, however WA’s smaller population means this is very challenging to achieve while continuing to run and maintain costly flight services and airports.

“It will take a co-operative effort from government and the aviation industry to address this issue and make flying in regional WA more affordable.”

Albany MLA Peter Watson said the Government had not considered a subsidy. “The inquiry will be looking at all submissions and the Government will examine the recommendations made in the committee’s report to Parliament,” he said.

“It’s important that all the different aspects that make up the final ticket price be examined to see if they can be reduced in any way.”

REX’s submission includes a comparison of airport charges across the country, with Albany’s average airport charges listed as more than three times more than their traditional network. “The cost of airport charges in WA are astronomically high, some 300 to 350 per cent higher than the rest of Australia,” the submission stated.

Mr Sharpe said the airport charges were only one element of the price structure. “Many factors influence airfares and fees charged to REX airlines by the City are just one small contributor,” he said. The inquiry will also receive submissions from the Albany Chamber and Commerce and Industry and local tourism operators.

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