Hanson fees claims ‘wrong’

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

Pauline Hanson has taken to social media to blame high flight costs in the North West on local governments.

During a visit to Port Hedland this year Ms Hanson was asked to address high regional flight costs, and the One Nation leader took to Facebook last week to provide an answer.

“It’s the cost of the landing fees that these local governments are charging airlines,” she said.

“The cost per turn is considerably higher at a number of regional ports in WA and Queensland compared with those in other States and Territories.”

Ms Hanson said she met with Virgin Airlines to get her answers where she concluded pricing is driven by demand, competition and cost of operation.

“In some cases, this reflects over-investment in airport infrastructure by councils ... in other cases this reflects a growing trend whereby councils grant the management rights of an airport to a third-party private operator under long-term lease arrangements.”

Geoffrey Thomas, airlineratings.com editor-in-chief disagreed with Ms Hanson, saying airfare costs were a very complex subject with a plethora of factors going into the make-up of the fare charges, and could not simply be put on local government.

“Airline fares are complex because a host of factors come into play, including economy of scale, starkly varying cost bases and the significant flag-fall cost,” he said.

“The next thing is you can’t compare a 300-passenger aeroplane to Sydney with a 100-passenger plane to Port Hedland. It’s dramatically different economics and profitability involved. The airline industry is the world’s least profitable industry.

“All the industries around them are profitable from the airports themselves to traffic controllers, but the airline industry itself is not.”

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the Karratha costs per passenger are generally lower or similar to most other airports in WA of similar size and council benchmarks fees and charges every year when setting fees.

“The cost of regional aviation is naturally more expensive, simply due to the fact that it cannot benefit from the same economies of scale that exist at major airports,” he said.

”Maintaining and operating airports in accordance with regulatory requirements can impose significant financial impacts.”

Port Hedland International Airport was unable to comment at the time of print.

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