The Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar is claiming a partial victory in the wake of news that Qantaslink has substantially increased the number of resident fares available on its Brisbane-Blackall-Barcaldine-Longreach route for a month.
Some 214 fares are available for those travelling from Longreach to Brisbane between July 11 and August 10, or seven a day.
This contrasts markedly with the situation earlier in the year, when a travel agent told Queensland Country Life there was one resident fare on offer on the March 12 flight between the two destinations, another on March 14, two on March 15 and another two on March 18.
Mr Millar has been vocal in calling for the cost of flying on the regulated route to be brought down drastically, and he said while the announcement was pleasing, it was only in place for a month at this stage.
“I will be keeping a keen eye on the number of resident and sale fares beyond August 10,” he said.
“If this continues over the longer term, it beggars belief why it has taken Qantas so long to act.
“For over 12 months, I have been bashing down doors trying to determine what the problem is.
“Until now, Qantas has given us nothing but lip service and the Palaszczuk government has given us nothing at all.”
In March he determined that a flight between Longreach and Brisbane would have cost him $458 economy one-way, while a flight between Longreach and Sydney would require an outlay of $30 more, and a trip from from Longreach to Auckland, under the same seat conditions, was priced at $469.
He was joined in his outrage at the cost being borne by western Queenslanders for air travel by Brisbane opthalmolagist Bill Glasson, who had to outlay almost $1000 to attend a funeral in Longreach.
Mr Glasson said in March he feared the price of commuting by air would drive away business and services.
Mr Millar put the increase in the number of resident fares offered by Qantaslink down to his ongoing campaign.
When questioned about the increase, Qantaslink issued a written statement, saying the company was always reviewing the availability of resident fares and making changes where it made sense to do so.
“We understand how important a reliable, affordable air service is for the Longreach, Blackall and Barcaldine communities, and are keen to look at ways to improve the awareness of the special fares available to residents,” a spokeswoman said.
More than 60 per cent of Qantaslink’s seats on the route are sold either as resident fares, sale fares or as Frequent Flyer redemption seats.
Not all of the resident fares offered over the course of the year are sold, and outside of school holiday months, around 80pc of the flights from Longreach to Brisbane still have resident fares available.
Mr Millar said he wouldn’t stop his campaign for cheaper fares until he got an assurance that the same number of resident fares will be made available over the longer term.
“It is simply unacceptable for western Queensland residents to be taking out personal loans or racking up credit card debt, just to book a flight to Brisbane,” he said.