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Government air travel: use of smaller airlines.

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Senator Nick Minchin The Hon John Anderson MP Minister for Finance and Administration Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services 24 July 2003 23/2003

Government air travel: use of smaller airlines

The Australian Government will work towards the objective of 10 percent of government travel on the Canberra-Sydney route going to smaller airlines, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, and the Minister for Finance and Administration, Senator Nick Minchin, said today.

Government departments and agencies will be required to report regularly to their Minister and the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on their performance against the objective.

Mr Anderson said: “The Government has looked closely at the concerns raised by airlines such as Rex and Virgin Blue about the small proportion of their seats purchased by government departments and agencies.

“We have already strengthened the implementation of the existing procurement guidelines and now require departments and agencies to report their travel patterns on a weekly basis to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“These measures have already started to increase the use of smaller airlines and will have a growing effect in the months to come. However, there is considerable scope for improvement, particularly on the critical Canberra-Sydney route. The Government has accordingly set a target for the route and departments and agencies will have to track their progress against it,” Mr Anderson said.

Senator Minchin said: “The Government’s policy is that officials should purchase the best fare of the day; that is, the cheapest fare that suits their business requirements.

“Qantas Business Travel, which provides many government departments with travel agency services, has guaranteed to provide agencies with the best fare of the day or the best logical fare.

“Departments and agencies should now be seeking opportunities to negotiate with the smaller airlines for additional services and facilities in return for increased patronage.

“The Government will appoint an independent assessor from mid-August to examine the procedures for travel bookings in agencies and, with Qantas’ support, to review the efforts of Qantas Business Travel to provide the best fare.

“The assessor will examine agencies’ management of travel contracts, the extent to which smaller airlines are used, and the reasons given by public servants who are offered the best fare but choose not to take it,” Senator Minchin said.

Mr Anderson said: “The Government’s approach to smaller airlines is realistic and achievable. My own department strengthened its travel management procedures last year, and its use of smaller airlines increased threefold.”

Media contacts:

Deputy Prime Minister's office: Bill McKinley 02 62777680

Senator Minchin’s office: Michael Brennan 02 62777400