The Australian federal government’s decision to block Qatar Airways’ application for additional flights into the country is impeding event industry recovery, claim two industry bodies. Both organisations want the government to reconsider its position and allow the free market to naturally bring air-fairs back to affordable levels.
Peter King Chair of the Australian Business Events Association (ABEA) highlighted the consequences of artificially high airfares for the business event industry.
“Our position (ABEA) is that international visitation is being hampered in its recovery because capacity (number of flights) is taking longer to return than anticipated.”
“The implications are that capacity restrictions ultimately mean higher prices – supposedly up to 40% more than they should be. The flow on affect for us is it affects the ability of business events to attract delegates as they either cannot get flights or cannot/will not pay the high prices.”
King said the association want the government to allow free market principles to determine ticket prices and the fortunes of Qantas, which last year posted a 90% increase on pre-pandemic profits of $2.4billion.
“The ABEA want all airlines willing to bring more flight options to Australia supported – especially one of the best regarded airlines in the world with hubs to the Middle East, Asia and Europe – Qatar. Qantas is seemingly not able to rebuild capacity fast enough, so let others fill in the gaps.” Said King.
Peter McDonald CEO of Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) said that the high price of air travel is getting in the way of the recovery of the wider, and still fragile event industry.
“The collective Australian event industry contributes substantially to the national economy. Still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, the sector can ill afford for any avoidable obstacles to hinder that. The current cost of air travel to and within Australia is having a genuine bearing on its revival.”
McDonald believes the government’s decision to protect Qantas’ profits ‘in the national interest’ is counterproductive.
“MEA calls on all levels of government to effect policies that allow market forces to operate and drive down prices. The current federal government policy to limit flight potential by international carriers to Australia is contrary to the national interest of the events industry’s success.” He said.