JUST LANDED: Regional air routes and prices will be examined in a new Senate inquiry.
JUST LANDED: Regional air routes and prices will be examined in a new Senate inquiry. Contributed

Inquiry into regional air routes will take flight

THE Senate has begun its inquiry into rural and regional air routes, sparking various reactions from key community members in the south west.

This comes after a local outcry over the reliability offlights in the south west, with Charleville Mayor Annie Liston leading the charge.

The inquiry will focus on the social and economic impacts of the flight routes travelled by Qantas and REX.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee is expected to report back to the Senate in March 2018.

State Member for Warrego Ann Leahy said the decision would give people a greater say on the matter.

"The Senate inquiry will enable people to forward their issues in terms of the regulatory environment as it is this regulatory framework that is hampering aviation development in regional Queensland,” she said.

Ms Leahy stressed the importance of people voicing their concerns via the submission process.

"The Senate enquiry needs to receive submissions and they need to be invited to visit the community,” she said.

"I'm hoping that we can highlight the problems we are experiencing and what the potential solutions are as well. Rather than spending taxpayers' dollars, we can change regulation to give a much better outcome and more reliable flight service to towns such as Charleville.”

St George business owner Tony Griegg questioned whether an increase in flights would be viable.

"It's all well and good to provide services. But what you've got to look at is whether these services are being utilised,” he said.

"When you consider the cost of putting a commercial plane in the air and you have a single passenger, there might not be much point in extending the number of flights.

"In terms of pricing, we all want to see 99-cent airfares but we also need airlines to continue to prosper.”

Maranoa Regional councillor, Cameron O' Neil said he was happy that residents could have a say on the matter.

"Council has not discussed this yet but as chair I welcome the inquiry to ensure that there is an appropriate way that communities in regional Queensland that are experiencing high prices for airfares can put their case forward to look at this issue,” he said.

"Roma is in a unique position given that the peak financial period of 2013-14 has allowed us to invest revenue into our airport and see a large number of flights each week.”

Ms Leahy invites all interested parties to sent their submissions to https://senate.aph.gov.au/ or via email to rrat.sen@aph.gov.au.

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