A flight on the runway ready for take-off at the Sunshine Coast Airport.
A flight on the runway ready for take-off at the Sunshine Coast Airport. Erle Levey

Regional communities let down by 'ludicrous' flight prices

WHILE the price of a flight to Brisbane from Rockhampton has gone down by a large amount, many residents think more options are needed to help drive down the cost of flights.

In 2017 Fiona Coleman's daughter Brenna was 22 when she was involved in a car accident in Brisbane that left her with serious injuries, but because of inflated airfares, Mrs Coleman couldn't afford to fly to see her daughter until two weeks after the accident.

"She had been pushed by a ute across four lanes, onto the other side of the road and down a railway embankment," Mrs Coleman said.

 

COMPETITION NEEDED: Fiona Coleman with her daughter Brenna shortly after Brenna's accident which left her seriously injured.
COMPETITION NEEDED: Fiona Coleman with her daughter Brenna shortly after Brenna's accident which left her seriously injured. Fiona Coleman

"She drove a little mini and that was a complete write off, all of the airbags went off and I think it was one of the airbags that caused a really bad laceration on her head.

"I used to work on A&E and we would call it a scalping, so she was cut from the top of the eyebrow right back along the skull and she had what they call a traumatic brain injury."

While Mrs Coleman says doctors weren't concerned for Brenna's life, she was in a serious condition in hospital.

"It was really scary at the time...it doesn't matter how old your child is, you just want to be with them when they are ill or have had an accident," she said.

Mrs Coleman lives with a number of auto-immune diseases and the former registered nurse, is no longer able to work.

 

The cost to fly to Brisbane from Rockhampton on Thursday, February 28, as of 6.45pm Wednesday night.
The cost to fly to Brisbane from Rockhampton on Thursday, February 28, as of 6.45pm Wednesday night. Flight Centre

She and her husband live off one income and she says the stress of the accident and trying to get to Brisbane to see Brenna caused a serious flare up for her.

"It was really horrible and really stressful," she said..

"That much stress isn't good for my illnesses, so I actually did go backwards for a while.

"I am supposed to avoid stressful situations and when you worry and you can't see your daughter it just makes it worse."

When Mrs Coleman went to book a flight to Brisbane to be with her daughter she was shocked to see the cost.

 

The prices of the return flight on Friday, February 29, as of 6.45pm Wednesday night.
The prices of the return flight on Friday, February 29, as of 6.45pm Wednesday night. Flight Centre

"There weren't any flights that day, but there were some the next day and they were over $500 one way," she said.

"On just one wage my husband and I couldn't afford it.

"We live from pay to pay, we didn't have any savings, so I had to rely on my sister down there and Brenna's cousin who were able to be with her until we got down.

"I had to wait until I could get a flight I could afford, which was about two weeks later."

Last minute flights from Rockhampton to Brisbane and back are now at a more reasonable price, but it is still hard for most families to afford to pay that kind of money for a 55 minute flight, Mrs Coleman says.

"I'm not an angry person, but I imagine a lot of other people would be justified in feeling angry about the price of flights.

 

The total cost to fly from Rockhampton to Brisbane and back, as of 6.45pm Wednesday, February 27.
The total cost to fly from Rockhampton to Brisbane and back, as of 6.45pm Wednesday, February 27. Flight Centre

"I suppose I was more disappointed and frustrated really. The prices are ludicrous."

The most recent operations report from Rockhampton Airport shows there has been a slight increase in the number of passengers using the airport.

Domestic passenger numbers for December 2017 were 44,438 and in 2018 the December passenger numbers increased slightly to 44, 476.

Mrs Coleman suggested more competition for the current airlines flying out of Rockhampton may drive down prices and said there was no valid reason for flights out of Rockhampton to be as expensive as they are.

"If we could bring in more airlines again it might reduce the prices," she said.

"I don't see that there is any other reason for the flights to be that expensive."



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