Perth-London Are Aussies getting the rough end of the deal?
EXCLUSIVE: The McGowan Government will demand to know why Perth travellers will pay up to a third more for a seat on a Qantas non-stop flight to London than Brits flying in the opposite direction.
Statements issued by Qantas to the Australian and British media this week revealed the ticket price disparity, which could total thousands of dollars.
This is despite the previous Barnett government committing $14 million in WA taxpayers’ money for upgrades to Perth Airport to secure the direct flights.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the revelation “demands further explanation” and added weight to WA Labor’s call for an inquiry into expensive domestic regional airfares.
“It’s extraordinary that despite this boost from WA taxpayers, West Australians have to pay so much more than people flying on the same route in the opposite direction,” Mr Papalia said.
“Like so many deals done by the Liberals, this looks like a dud for the WA taxpayer.”
Qantas on Thursday told Australian media return fares from Perth to London would start at $2270, but would drop below $2000 “during sale periods”.
But the airline told British media return fares from London to Perth started at £1095 ($1894) and would slip below £900 ($1556) during the sales.
This means economy passengers starting their journey in Perth would be slugged an extra $450 — 28 per cent more — during sales.
The price difference is even greater in business class. Qantas media releases said return business class tickets from Perth would start at $9725, but the same seat from London would be priced from £4240 ($7333) — a difference of 33 per cent.
The fare chasm was highlighted by Britain’s leading travel journalist Simon Calder.
Writing in The Independent, he said: “Aussies get the rough end of the deal.
“If Australian passengers will tolerate significantly higher fares than their British counterparts, the airline will respond accordingly.”
Mr Calder also asked if the fare hikes could be because West Australians were “desperate to flee lonely Perth for London”, but predicted the non-stop flight would “transform the British attitude to Western Australia” and attract “an awful lot more visitors” to Perth.
Last night, a Qantas spokeswoman said: “Like all airlines, our fares at either end of a route can be different for a variety of reasons. These include seasonal demand, currency strength making different destinations more attractive to travel to, as well as the general aviation market in each country.
“For example, during late March and April when the direct London-Perth services commence, the difference in fares will reflect traditionally stronger demand from Australians travelling to the UK and Europe, whilst the demand for UK and European travellers to Australia is generally lower.”
The new route has already sparked an airfare price war.
Singapore Airlines is offering a Perth-London return ticket in April 2018 for under $1550.