Residents in regional and remote towns across Australia will benefit from a major expansion to Qantas’ discounted fares programme.
The national carrier will invest up to $10 million each year in providing flight discounts for residents in 16 towns across Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Currently, Qantas provides residents flying between their home town and the nearest capital city with discounts of at least 20-30 per cent – with discounted fares starting at $175-$325 per sector when booking return journeys. These discounts will remain.
Bigger discounts will now apply to fares booked during busy periods and at the last minute, so the maximum residents will pay will be approximately $400 per sector when booking return journeys (approximately $800 return).
Fares vary between regional towns and fare levels will be reviewed periodically to consider inflation or other cost increases. Qantas will continue to offer residents sale fares below these levels from time to time.
The discounted fares programme applies in selected regional towns where residents compete with a very high proportion of corporate travel or are impacted by their remoteness.
The initial rollout of the programme expansion will happen immediately in Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Karratha and Kalgoorlie.
Regional airports and councils in these towns have committed to reducing the fees they charge each passenger, which are built into airfares.
Qantas is consulting with local airports and councils in the other towns in the programme: Moranbah, Roma, Charleville, Broome, Port Hedland, Newman, Paraburdoo, Alice Springs and Yulara (Ayers Rock).
Qantas is calling on the regional airports and councils to implement similar fee reductions for residents.
Qantas Domestic chief executive officer Andrew David said the national carrier was responding to direct feedback from residents in regional Australia about accessing more affordable air travel.
“We have been out to visit regional communities to listen to their concerns and those raised through the Senate Inquiry into regional airfares, and we are responding,” Mr David said.
“The existing discount programme is proving to be extremely popular, but some residents have told us that when they need to travel during peak travel periods or at the last minute, for things like funerals or urgent medical appointments, they end up booking our highest fares and paying more or they don’t travel. That’s why we are introducing bigger discounts to these bookings.
“The maximum residents in these towns will pay is around $400 per sector, or around $800 return.
“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.”
Mr David said more than 20,000 return trips had been booked using the resident fare discounts since 2017, but many locals were not using the dedicated resident fare website and wound up paying more than they should.
“We’d like to see more residents take advantage of the savings, which apply to every seat on every flight to the nearest capital city,” he said.
“Booking through our dedicated resident fare website is the only way to get special fares for locals, including the extra savings we are now making available.”
Figures recently released show that Qantas contributed more than $5 billion to the economy in regional Australia and supported more than 40,000 jobs.