CHOICE membership

QANTAS price gouging?

What can be done about the cost of airfares in rural Queensland, specifically flights from Brisbane to Moranbah and return?

QANTAS now have a monopoly on flights in and out of Moranbah, Virgin pulled out of the market in 2017. The cost of the Brisbane to Moranbah leg (a 90 minute flight) varies from $999 to $235. A return trip can cost over $1500, which I consider outrageous. Where can I voice my displeasure about this in the hope that something can be done to hold them to account, and even better, explain why the prices are so high?



There can be a lot of different reasons which include:

  • competition (like you have said) with different carriers. The less competition generally the higher the price.
  • demand for seats. Low demand means harder to fill aircraft so this may be reflected in price. This could be a factor especially where you have identified a large range in seat prices…seats are discounted significantly compared to the full fare to try and get more ‘bums on seats’.
  • corporate verses public routes. I imagine that most of the passengers from Moranbah are mine or other local workers, whose airfare is paid for by the employer. This can disadvantage the public as corporate customers usually book late at inflated (full fare) prices. This can mean that discounted seats are few and far between as the airline knows that corporate travellers will predominately fill the plane.
  • low traffic routes. The fewer the number of arrivals/departures, usually the higher the seat prides as this indicates demand is low.
  • airport charges. There was a report recently of a regional airport (Julia Creek?) charging ridiculous airport fees for planes to use the runway and other facilities. These heed to be passed onto the passenger and if Moranbah has higher fees, this can impact on seat prices. Also, less passengers means the higher fixed airport charges (per plane) are spread amongst fewer passengers.

Mackay airport isn’t overly far from Moranbah (200km), and maybe it might be a better departure point for you…even though it is far less convenient. Is there a bus that goes there from Moranbah…or maybe ask a friend for a favour for a lift.

This news article also provides a similar slant on why regional airfares can be expensive…

If the data in the article is correct, landing charges at Moranbah are in the order of $9000. This $9000 has to be spread amongst the planes passengers. Compounding this, as Moranbah are generally Bombardier (Dash and Q400) aircraft, the number of passengers is less than the intercity jets (and where landing fees are substantially cheaper).

I wouldn’t necessarily be pointing the finger at Qantas…maybe the operator of the airport may be better.


You can write to QANTAS and let them know your displeasure and ask for an explanation, you can write to the papers, you can contact the TV Current Affairs type programs eg 4Corners, 7:30 Report, ACA, you can voice your complaint to the ACCC, post a review on review sites about the airline, post a comment on the airline Facebook site (if you use Facebook), add a tweet about it to the airline’s Twitter account (if you use it) and also just tweet a comment with the tags you want to use. Write to both your State and Federal members of Parliament and to the Federal Minister and the Opposition Shadow Minister for Transport. I don’t know if any will get any reasonable response but nothing ventured nothing gained as that saying goes.

Posting as you did here also gets some publicity with other users, Choice and even the industry/business.


The ABC seems to be targeting airlines at the moment, especially anything negative to do with Qantas. It might be possible to get on their bandwagon…but if you do, make sure you have your facts right in relation to why the flights are expensive otherwise it may not go very far.


I think there is a good reason the old QANTAS is happy to be Qantas - forgetting their roots in regional Australia, specifically QLD and NT, but also other places, works for them … it’s all about shareholder return and nothing about providing service …


Thank you all for your contributions. I will action most of these and keep you informed of any responses I receive.



If anyone wishes to track this inquiry including looking at the received submissions and the report when released publicly, they can do such here:


Looks like regional airfares (dominated by Qantas routes) could potentially get more expensive if the costs of the new security measures are passed onto the passenger…


That will be the day’s understatement.

Separately it appears the concept of ‘the common good’ has long escaped most governments, as well as most voters who are more prone to be attracted to populism, whistling, and their local pork barrels.


I suspect the government/security agencies would argue that it is in the common good to have safe air travel…however…why have the risks all of a sudden changed which warrant city long haul based security measures at every small regional airport?

What about every property airport around the country…or the country airports that only service local light aircraft?

I thought the existing situation where regional arrivals and departures at the main airports was separate was enough to reduce risks…but I must be more of a risk taker than most.


There is a strong argument as I see it that security measures proposed are to make air travel as a whole secure. The cost burden belongs to the industry as a whole, or to be fair the nation, as it affects more than just those on board each flight. I’ve previously travelled weekly through low security airports. The areas they serve deserve reliable and cost effective air services.

Many of the regional airports listed cover Qld, and western NSW. The airfares are typically excessive and inconsistent. It’s within a few dollars as cheap to fly Melbourne to the Gold Coast return than Brisbane to Rockhampton one way! All full service airports.

The added surprise ingredient to the roast might be nearly one in three members of the Federal lower house (aka Government) represent Qld, including every seat outside BrisVegas.

Not sure what is in the barrels. Definitely better than Pork?

Perhaps it helps with those parliamentary frequent flyer miles and status credits?


Nearly every big property or community where I am has an airstrip - for one thing, that is how the doctor arrives … it’s also how the mustering is done …

That said, our little town was the site of a hi-jacking (only three in Australia - the only one with a fatality) and what would possibly now be considered a terrorist act (isn’t everything?) when an aircraft was flown into a building killing 5 people …

These happened in the 1970’s - good to see there’s been no delay addressing the issue !!


Risk management? Urgent and prioritised almost overnight, but why? Are there boat people coming to the regatta as well as by air and vehicle?


It was a little tongue in cheek - I don’t think there is an issue either way, and preventing the next unexpected big thing is impossible within any finite budget … regardless of all the so-called protections in place to keep us warm and safe, there is very little stopping people doing bad things - eg how many people are still ‘armed’ in the same way Douglas Crabbe was in 1983? It seems to me that vast amounts of money is wasted on protecting us from incredibly unlikely events … airports and the so called oxymoron airport security (or security theatre as Schneier would call it) seem to me like a classic example - one of many.