Australians to get airfare bonanza says regulator

December 07, 2021
A Rex 737-800. Photo: Supplied.

More airlines and borders re-opening are the catalysts for an airfare bonanza according to the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In its latest Airline Competition in Australia report, the ACCC said it found that greater optimism among Australians that state and territory borders will remain open has been driving renewed confidence to fly, and a choice of four airlines on the country’s busiest routes appears to be putting downward pressure on airfares.

However, the initial benefits with fares as low as $69 between capitals appear to be confined to the Eastern States.

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Shortly Australia’s top five routes connecting Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and the Gold Coast will be served by four airlines – Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Rex.

“Rex’s further expansion is welcome news for the millions of travelers who will soon have a choice of Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin or Rex on Australia’s five busiest routes,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We have already seen some significant reductions in airfares as a result of the increasing competition on major intercity routes, and we expect there will be further downward pressure on prices as the airlines compete for passengers,” Mr. Sims said.

Rex is yet to announce its Perth plans, while new start-up Bonza will make an announcement of its intentions tomorrow.

“Bonza’s announced entry as a new and independent low-cost carrier will no doubt be welcomed by regional communities,” Mr. Sims said.

“As Bonza announces its network, we will be alert to any anti-competitive capacity increases or pricing practices by the other airlines in response to the new competition.”

“With Bonza’s network plans, and Virgin, Jetstar, and Qantas launching new direct regional links, consumers will benefit from greater choice, route connectivity, and cheaper airfares,” Mr. Sims said.

“COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on the airline industry but there were positive signs that it was starting to recover as people booked long-awaited holidays.”

The ACCC said that before booking any travel, consumers should carefully review the airline’s terms and conditions of purchase to understand if they are entitled to a refund or some other remedy in the event of a cancellation due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

It added that consumers should also consider the costs and benefits of purchasing more flexible fares, which may be more expensive, versus purchasing discounted but more restricted fares.