State KAP Leader and member for Traeger Robbie Katter has slammed Qantas for their second rate treatment of regional Queenslanders after a flight to Mount Isa had to be diverted due to engine problems.
On Monday afternoon the Alliance Airlines flight, operated by QantasLink, was forced to divert the Brisbane to Mount Isa service and make an unscheduled landing at Longreach Airport.
“This is another clear fail from Qantas on servicing North Queensland residents,’’ he said.
“We have seen the level of service consistently deteriorate over a number of years to the point regional Queenslanders are treated as second class citizens – but are forced to pay first class prices.
“Cancellations, delays, diversions – they have become the norm for regional Queenslanders which is unacceptable.
“Many international flights that are cheaper than flying from Brisbane to Mount Isa. The cheapest flight I could find today to fly from Mount Isa to Brisbane was $667.’’
Mr Katter has met with a number of alternate carriers this year to discuss a viable airline option for regional Queenslanders.
“I have been calling for the Labor government to investigate possible price gauging and falling levels of service provided to regional Queenslanders for a long time,’’ he said.
“But the concerns of North Queenslanders fall on deaf ears when it comes to this government.
“Excessive costs and poor service is only going to stop if the Government shows some courage and forces airlines to demonstrate they are not overcharging on regional routes.
“It is also time we seriously consider re-regulating our regional routes.’’
Mr Katter organised a public hearing in Mount Isa on the issue in April this year which was co-chaired by Senator Barry O’Sullivan and attended by over 100 people.
“People came from far and wide to attend the public hearing and they were outraged at the level of service and prices they had to pay,’’ he said.
“You can’t convince me Qantas is doing it tough either – they posted a $976 million profit for their December half and their CEO Alan Joyce took home $24.6 million in salary last year.
“Really, it’s disgusting. Mr Joyce is still welcome to collect his UnAustralian of the Year award which remains in my office.’’