The Senate has today (Thursday) announced a new inquiry into rural and regional air routes and prices.
The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee (RRAT) will focus on the social and economic impacts of fare costs and service delivery for non-metropolitan communities.
The inquiry is expected to report to the Senate in March 2018.
Queensland LNP Senator O’Sullivan, who is RRAT Committee co-chair, said airfare cost and service reliability were vital issues for rural communities.
“I have travelled tens of thousands of kilometres across Queensland since I became a Senator in 2014,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
“I have driven the roads and I have flown the rural and regional air routes.
“One of the issues that always draws strong discussion is the costs of airfares and reliability of air services across rural and regional air routes.
“Currently, some states and territories provide subsidies; there are some allocated seats for locals; there are additional costs placed on the airlines – these are all factors that we need to examine closely to understand how regional airlines provide their current services.
“Then we need to examine the impacts of these factors.”
Senator O’Sullivan said regional air routes were a lifeline for access to major community and health services and the lifeblood of special economic drivers in the bush.
“If you want to access a medical specialist in the bush you often need to fly to the nearest major city,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
“If you want to bring special skilled workers to a rural and regional business, you often require them to fly to your area.
“These air routes are a necessity for the people in the bush, which makes it an important issue to examine thoroughly using the committee process.”
Senator O’Sullivan said he commenced work on an inquiry following approaches from LNP members of Queensland parliament , including the LNP Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.
Mr Millar called for a Senate inquiry into the issue last month. Story here.
“State Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar has been very vocal in this debate,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
“He recently approached me about instigating a Senate inquiry because of the widespread discussion in his community.
“Lachlan has been a strong advocate for a detailed examination of the existing process and we believe this inquiry will provide that opportunity.”
Inquiry terms of reference
The operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities, with particular reference to:
a) social and economic impacts of air route supply and airfare pricing;
b) different legal, regulatory, policy and pricing frameworks and practices across the Commonwealth, states and territories;
c) how airlines determine fare pricing;
d) the determination of airport charges for landing and security fees, aircraft type and customer demand;
e) pricing determination, subsidisation and equity of airfares;
f) determination of regulated routes and distribution of resident’s fares across regulated routes;
g) airline competition within rural and regional routes;
h) consistency of aircraft supply and retrieval of passengers by airlines during aircraft maintenance and breakdown;
i) all related costs and charges imposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority;
j) any related matters.