Inquiry could shed light on high airfares

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Albany MLA Peter Watson is hopeful an inquiry into regional airfares, set to be presented to the WA Parliament in November, will uncover the reasons behind the high prices of flights between Albany and Perth.

The inquiry, conducted by the Economics and Industry Standing Committee, will focus on the factors causing expensive airfares in regional WA and the impact it has on local business and tourism.

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

With the committee due to present its findings by November 28, Mr Watson hopes there may be a solution to the high prices of some flights.

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“It’s time we get some answers as to why people travell-ing throughout the regions are being treated so badly and a Parliamentary inquiry will allow this to happen,” he said. “The Albany route has definitely been unaffordable for a lot of people for too long, giving them no choice but to drive.

“I’m hoping that the inquiry will get to the bottom of why our airfares cost so much and if there any are mechanisms that can reduce that cost.”

A Rex spokeswoman said the airline also supported the inquiry, indicating its costs in WA were significantly higher than in other States.

“Total costs specific to WA are 130 per cent higher and amount to an extra $35.18 per passenger flight hour than that in the other States,” she said.

City of Albany chief executive Andrew Sharpe said in February the price make-up for airfares was complex.

“Many factors influence airfares and the fees charged to Rex airlines by the City are just one small contributor,” he said.

“Council has determined that ratepayers will not subsidise the operation of the airport and the City works hard to maintain a business model that is financially sustainable.”

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