Qantas has introduced new price caps for regional travel — but it won't make your next outback holiday any cheaper

Mount Isa, Queensland. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
  • Qantas is now charging a maximum of around $400 one way for passengers travelling from regional and remote areas to their nearest city under its discounted fares program.
  • However, the deal will only be available to residents across key towns in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
  • The move comes after a Senate inquiry into high airfare prices in regional areas.

Qantas is capping flight prices from certain regional and remote areas in Australia to around $400 one way, following a Senate inquiry into skyrocketing regional airfares.

But the prices won’t just be for everyone — sorry, if you were planning your next trip to the outback — but tailored for regional Australian residents who have been finding it tough to pay airfares if they want to travel to the city.

Qantas said it will invest up to $10 million a year to provide flight discounts to 16 towns in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, under its extended discounted fares program.

Currently, Qantas provides a 20-30% discount (starting between $175 and $325) on return flights to residents flying between their home town and the nearest capital city. While this discount will still remain, bigger discounts will apply to fares booked during busy periods and at the last minute, so that the most a passenger will pay for a flight will be around $400 each way, or roughly $800 return.

The rollout begins immediately in Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Karratha and Kalgoorlie. Qantas said it is also consulting with local airports in Moranbah, Roma, Charleville, Broome, Port Hedland, Newman, Paraburdoo, Alice Springs and Yulara (Ayers Rock) as part of the discount program.

Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said the new discount was in response to feedback from feedback amid the senate inquiry into regional airfares, with residents seeking cheaper airfares. The inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of air travel to regional and remote communities was launched in 2017. In 2018, when the members of the public were called on to comment on air services in remote areas, several regional Australians expressed frustration over high airfares, the ABC reported.

“The existing discount program is proving to be extremely popular but some residents have told us that when they need to travel during peak travel periods or at the last minute, for things like funerals or urgent medical appointments, they end up booking our highest fares and paying more or they don’t travel,” David said in a statement. “That’s why we are introducing bigger discounts to these bookings.”

David said more than 20,000 return trips had been booked using the resident fare discounts since 2017.

To be eligible for the resident discounts, passengers have to be Qantas Frequent Flyer members and this automatically links to their residential address.

The trips have to start in a regional area and passengers are limited to only 12 return fares a year.

There might be a few limitations, but its a step in the right direction.

If only all airfare prices were capped.

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