It’s an exciting start to the month here in Tamworth – with the announcement that not one, but two airlines are joining Qantas in servicing the Tamworth district. Virgin Australia will fly between Tamworth and Sydney six times a week from 25 May, and regional carrier Jetgo has picked up the Tamworth to Brisbane route.
This development has suddenly changed the entire landscape – and the way people in the region can do business.
QantasLink hasn’t had competition on the Sydney-Tamworth route since Ansett collapsed 14 years ago in 2001, and I’m sorry to say, it shows – mainly in the prices that have been charged.
Now I’m a big fan of the red kangaroo – I’ve been flying with Qantas for years. In fact the company has told me I’m one of its most frequently flying regional customer. I’ve always been very impressed with the service and the way the airline has looked after me. But when I recently forked out $2044 for two return flights to Sydney – $1022 per person – it hurt! And I’m not the only one who’s faced prices like that. It happens too often.
It’s unfair that rural and regional Australians should be discriminated against in this way. What kind of impact does that pricing have on our ability to do business, to stay in touch with family and friends, and to fully participate in Australia’s economic development? You don’t need to be a genius to work it out.
The entry of Virgin as a proactive and enthusiastic carrier has brought competition back to the route in a big way. There’s now something of a price war going on, with QantasLink and Virgin both offering saver flights to Sydney from around $75.
Those kind of prices help make a business trip a profitable proposition. The addition of Jetgo opening up the northern route too means that residents from a wide district around Tamworth will now find it worth driving here to take a flight to Sydney or Brisbane. It opens up a whole new world of options for the region.
I’d like to say to all three airlines – thank you for flying here – do your job well and charge fair prices, and you’ll find that we’re right behind you.