The rollout of subsidised airfares to residents of regional and remote Australia continues at a decent pace. Qantas has added eight more towns to its discounted community fares scheme. Qantas now joins Regional Express as one of Australia’s biggest providers of discounted fares to residents of regional and remote Australia.
Residents of Alice Springs, Yulara, Paraburdoo, Roma, Charleville, Port Hedland and Moranbah will have a cap placed on the cost of Qantas airfares to their nearest capital city. Not that this is necessarily a bargain now. The cap is AUD$400 per person one way.
Flights don’t always cost that much on these sectors. Searching for a one way flight between Roma and Brisbane in 30 days time, I see a one way fare for USD$193. If Grandma is unwell and I need to be a flight tomorrow, fares are starting at AUD$376.
These towns join Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Karratha, Kalgoorlie, Broome, and Newman in having access to discounted Qantas fares.
The cost of airfares in regional and remote Australia has been a running sore point with residents and the subject of a recent Senate Inquiry. Airlines, including Qantas, argued that many of these routes are marginal, lack economies of scale, and face high operating costs.
Addressing that issue, Qantas Domestic CEO, Andrew David, has said:
“There are some fundamental realities about the costs of operating regional services that we can’t change, particularly to remote parts of the country, but we are making this commitment and investment to assist residents in these towns.”
Qantas says the rollout of their discounted community fares scheme demonstrates their commitment to regional flying (something many Qantas critics say the airline shows a distinct lack of commitment to). Andrew David went on to say:
“We are pleased to extend these bigger discounts to other regional towns where residents compete with a very high proportion of corporate travel or are impacted by their remoteness.
In the towns that have already had bigger discounts we have seen a 40 per cent increase in residents accessing the discounted fares with the vast majority paying less than $400. On average, residents are paying less than $300 one way to their nearest capital city.”
You do need to be a local resident and a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme to access the discounted community fares scheme. To book, you’ll need to log into your Qantas Frequent Flyer account and have a home address in one of the remote or regional towns covered by the community fares scheme. Your eligibility will be automatically assessed and if appropriate, you’ll be offered access to the discounted community fares.