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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2309

(Question No. 333)

Senator Macklin asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation, upon notice, on 30 May 1985:

(1) Can the families and relatives of staff of Qantas fly standby internationally at extremely low fares, to the detriment of other Australian citizens who apply for stand-by flights; if so:

(a) what is the income and seat/kilometres from flights of families and relatives utilising these subsidised stand-by fares; and

(b) how much extra income would be expected from stand-by fares if they were related to levels of existing long haul air routes, domestically and overseas, and opened to all Australian citizens.

(2) Why are Qantas stand-by fares not extended to all Australian citizens at profitable fare levels to maximise the financial return from 100 per cent of seats.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) I am informed that the Qantas staff travel scheme does permit certain close relatives of employees of the Company to utilise the Company's flights on a space-available basis. The facility is provided strictly `subject to commercial load' and is also subject to other controls and limitations, such as terms of eligibility, purpose and frequency of travel.

Discounted fare levels are available to eligible relatives of employees, and the most commonly used level of discount being 80 per cent of normal or certain specified excursion fares.

The company is of the view that this concession is not to the detriment of other Australian citizens since members of the public are never denied seats in favour of staff-related passengers. The discounted fares made available to staff and their eligible relatives are not subsidised since the revenue generated by the scheme exceeds the direct costs involved with the carriage of these passengers. Indeed this contribution helps offset the level of increases needed to cover fares and rates paid by commercial passengers and freight agents.

(a) The company views the scheme as a whole and is therefore unable to segment the associated revenue and seat/kilometres into portions derived from staff and their eligible relatives. The forecast 1985/86 revenue generated from the staff travel scheme is $5.7m. The forecast revenue passenger kilometres for 1985 is 838,383,000.

(b) Studies by the company of possible international stand-by fares out of Australia have shown that, should they be introduced (and no doubt matched by competitors), the company's overall level of revenue would be more likely to decline than to rise. The question, however, is speculative to such an extent that the company is unable to provide a specific indication of the net revenue effect.

(2) Studies undertaken by the company have shown that stand-by fares are simply not a viable proposition other than for domestic flights, and therefore the company has not made international stand-by fares generally available to the public. Clearly, in the present domestic aviation framework, the company is unable to consider the development of public stand-by fares for travel within Australia.

Furthermore, it is the view of the company that with the exception possibly of the Australia/New Zealand routes, the stand-by fare concept is not a viable one having regard to both the need for all the additional travel documents versus the domestic passenger's requirements, as well as the fact that if a passenger did miss his target flight, then the next alternative flight would certainly not be on the same day and in some cases may not be until several days later.