On Friday, Qantas announced they would be discounting return flights to Perth for residents of six regional towns, welcome news for people who find travelling to Perth too expensive.
The discounts range from 10-30 per cent, and are only available for residents from Broome, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Paraburdoo, Port Hedland and Newman, and have come about as part of a government inquiry into the prices of regional airfares.
WA Young Nationals Vice-President Siobhan Blake, who grew up in Denmark in the state’s southwest, said these discounts are a great first-step, however more needs to be done to help young people living in Perth get home to visit their families.
“I think it will really help young people from regional areas, stay in regional areas,” she said.
“It’s hard if you’ve come down to Perth for university or something, and flying back up there, it costs you more to fly to Broome than it does to fly to Bali.”
Airlines have been defending the high prices, stating there is a lack of demand for these flights, however, Ms Blake said she believes there is enough demand to bring the prices down.
“I think there is enough demand, especially in these towns in the mining and pastoral region, in places that are extremely resource heavy,” she said.
“We’ve already got all these people flying in and flying out and we need to be supporting people who actually live there and are residents to stay in those areas.
“Otherwise they won’t stay and we’ll be having people moving to the city because they can’t afford to stay there and come to doctors’ appointments.”
The other issue is tourism, as airfares for tourists are not being discounted under this scheme.
Ms Blake said the Nationals have been working to make airfares government regulated, and therefore cheaper for everyone.
“Tourism is definitely a problem. The Nationals brought to the election that they wanted to hold this inquiry that is happening at the moment, and we also said that we’d implement $125 million into the findings of that inquiry.”
Minister for Tourism, Paul Papalia echoed this, stating he would like to see airlines do more to increase tourism in regional WA.
“We want to address the costs affronted by tourists, because we want to grow tourism visitations to the regions, to grow economic opportunity and grow jobs across the state,” he said.
“We are working on airline strategies to address regional airfares more generally, and also attract international airlines to the state.”