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Labor calls for airline inquiry

Labor calls for airline inquiry

Shadow minister for mental health Stephen Dawson addressed the issue at a Labor party health forum in Kalgoorlie last Tuesday.

He spoke to the Miner the next day alongside shadow minister for tourism Paul Papalia.

Mr Papalia said it was a Labor Party priority to hold the airlines flying domestic in regional WA to account.

“Mark McGowan has said at the State tourism conference last year that (if) he became premier, one of the first things he would do is call in the two chief executives of Qantas and Virgin and demand an explanation as to why we are being treated in this way,” he said.

He said if elected the party would use their purchasing power as leverage against the airlines.

“The State Government spends a lot of money every year just flying people around the State or interstate,” he said.

Mr Dawson said while a parliamentary inquiry would not have the power to force airlines to drop fares, it would place media scrutiny and unwanted pressure on them.

“Look, a parliamentary inquiry makes recommendations to government, but because these are private companies they are commercial operations and at the end of the day they make decisions based on commercial viability and whatever else,” he said.

“What a parliamentary inquiry has the power to do is to shine a spotlight on this issue, to look deeply and get to the nuts and bolts and to get to the bottom of why these fairs are so expensive.

“So it cannot require the airline to drop their prices but it can put pressure on the airlines, it can put intense media scrutiny and pressure on the airlines to drop their fares.”

While Mr Papalia said fare pricing posed a negative effect on WA’s tourism industry, Mr Dawson said he was more worried about the people.

“I know Paul takes it from a tourism perspective, you know opening the towns,” he said.

“But for me, I take it from a local perspective it is about more than bringing people in but allowing our people to leave, to go on holidays to go to family or whatever else.”

On average it costs over $500 return to travel from Perth to Kalgoorlie, which is only 600km away.

A Qantas spokesman said it was not accurate to use distance as a factor in price determination.

“We also take into account the cost of operating the service, (like) fuel, airport charges for landing and security fees as well as the type of aircraft use on the route,” he said.

“We’ve been talking to a whole range of stakeholders in north western WA about their concerns regarding pricing.

“In December we offered sales fares between Kalgoorlie and Perth (one-way) starting at $149 and we regularly offer sales throughout the year.”

He said it was best for customers to take advantage of regular sales throughout the year and to book early.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson said they were committed to offering competitive air fares.

“We do not comment on the pricing of a particular route for commercial reasons, however, it is driven by a number of factors including market conditions, demand, operating costs, and airport pricing and taxes,” the spokesperson said.

View original article: https://thewest.com.au/news/kalgoorlie-miner/labor-calls-for-airline-inquiry-ng-b88358887z