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Thursday, 29 November 1973

Senator Townley (TASMANIA) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

(   1 ) Is the Minister aware that Qantas Airways Ltd makes available special fares to members of student groups, such as the Australian Union of Students.

(2)   Is the Minister aware that relatives of some students are also being granted such fares.

(3)   Is the Minister aware that in the coming Christmas holidays, many persons prepared to pay normal prices are having difficulty in obtaining seats due to heavy bookings by such groups.

(3)   Will the Minister restrict such cheap fares to non-peak periods.

Senator Cavanagh - The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   Qantas Airways Ltd is not making available 'special' fares to members of student groups such as the Australian Union of Students. Qantas will be arranging a program of international travel for the Australian Union of Students over the coming summer holiday period. The students will be travelling on affinity group charter flights at the minimum fare prescribed by the Australian Government for this kind of charter travel, that is SO per cent of the normal economy class fare for the equivalent journey on scheduled services. The Australian Union of Students meets all of the eligibility rules laid down by the Government for affinity group charter travel, except that its total membership exceeds the ceiling limit of 50,000 which the normal affinity group charter rules prescribe. In keeping with the usual practice which has prevailed over the last six years or so, the Government has waived this upper membership limit, to enable the student organisation to avail itself of the charter travel benefits for which it is otherwise completely eligible.

(2)   The affinity charter rules provide that a member of an eligible organisation may be accompanied on charter flights by spouse, dependent children or parents living in the same household as the member. No other relatives are permitted to accompany the member, unless of course they are members in their own right.

(3)   The students concerned will travel on special Qantas charter flights quite separate and distinct from Qantas' normal scheduled services. Their carriage will not reduce the number of seats available for sale on Qantas' normal scheduled services in the coming Christmas holidays.

(4)   The minimum fare which the Government has prescribed for affinity group charter flights of the kind Qantas will be operating on behalf of the Australian Union of Students is applicable in peak and non-peak traffic periods. It is a matter for the airline that has been approached to operate such charter flights to decide whether it has the necessary capacity to perform them having regard to other traffic demands at the time. With regard to scheduled international air services, some cheap concession fares are unavailable in peak periods. It would not be feasible or appropriate to restrict all such fares to off-peak services although certain concessional fares do carry a higher fare level in peak seasons according to the direction of travel.

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