In its submission, council identified increasing safety and compliance requirements as two major factors contributing to Gladstone's high flight costs.
In its submission, council identified increasing safety and compliance requirements as two major factors contributing to Gladstone's high flight costs. Thinkstock

Council reveals reason for pricey flights, wants more action

GLADSTONE Regional Council has identified increasing safety and compliance requirements as two major factors contributing to Gladstone's high flight costs.

More than 140 submissions from people and organisations were received and published online in response to the Senate's regional airfares inquiry.

The inquiry, initiated on November 16, followed the Western Australian Government's own inquiry into WA regional airfares, which received more than 120 submissions, many of which accused airlines of pricing flights unfairly.

Received on the final day of submissions, Gladstone Regional Council's submission eliminated any unresolved feelings of anger some residents may have been holding on to.

In council's submission received on February 5 and published online by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committees, air travel was identified as "the most practical form of transport".

The three-page submission stated the wellbeing of regional Queenslanders depended on their ability to travel to Brisbane and blamed the rising stress surrounding regional air travel on several factors.

"Gladstone Airport has managed to maintain fees passed on to airlines for a number of years now but, increased operating costs (which include increasing safety and compliance requirements of Federal Government agencies) continue to place upward pressure on these fees to the point where increases are inevitable", the submission read.

"Basic supply and demand principles, coupled with active use of dynamic yield pricing by airlines means that passengers from Gladstone can often pay a higher fare to travel to Brisbane than someone travelling a further distance from provincial centres to its north.

"In much the same way as our attitude toward the price of fuels in regional Queensland, it is difficult for people to understand or accept this practice."

The submission acknowledged Gladstone Airport had, in the past, been charging some of the highest passenger head taxes for a coastal airport in Australia, "branding" the regional airport as one whose passengers "have a greater capacity to pay, which is not the case".

In January, about one week before submissions were set to close, Gladstone Regional Council and Gladstone Airport Corporation (GAC) were approached by The Observer regarding the Senate's inquiry and the looming  deadline.

When questioned, council redirected inquiries to GAC, who said it would not be making its own submission but that the Australian Airports Association (AAA) would do so on its behalf.

Despite there still being at least one week before submissions were set to close, the news that no Gladstone regional representatives had yet made a submission in the Senate's regional airfares inquiry on January 29 struck a chord with some residents.

On social media, many begged the question where their representation was when it came to the flight cost issue which was so prevalent to Gladstone.

In Gladstone Regional Council submission's closing statement, several ways in which the Government could "positively influence rural and regional airfares" were suggested.

These included providing new and further funding to subsidise rural/regional airport infrastructure and investment, ensuring government compliance requirements are affordable and overseeing the pricing of airfares through consumer competition regulation.

In addition to council's submission on behalf of Gladstone Region residents was one from the Mt Larcom District Progress Association Inc.



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