• Fri. Jan 6th, 2023

News Western Australia is reopening its border to travellers from Victoria and New South Wales has seen the cost of plane tickets skyrocket, but airlines say the pain will be short-lived, with additional flights expected to ease the pressure.

Dec 1, 2020

Airlines are adding dozens of extra flights for the expected rush of festive-season family reunions in Western Australia, amid calls to ensure ticket prices are affordable.
Key points:

  • One-way tickets between WA and the east are costing as much as $2,000
  • But Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia are all adding more direct services to Perth
  • The airlines say these additional flights will ensure more affordable tickets

The reopening of WA’s border with Victoria and New South Wales from next Tuesday means travellers from those states can spend Christmas in the west without having to first complete 14 days’ mandatory quarantine.
But for those looking for immediate flights, it may not come cheap.
Strong demand and limited seat availability in the days after the border reopening has pushed the price of some one-way airfares from Sydney and Melbourne via Brisbane to between $700 and $2,000.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive Chris Rodwell said the high prices were a concern.
WA’s tourism industry body wants the Government to help keep the price of flights down.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)
“There are many families that want to return here to enjoy their Christmas and of course there’s many business [travellers] that want to be able to visit Melbourne, to visit Sydney over the coming weeks and months, and so it’s really critical that those airfares are price competitive,” he said.
The WA Tourism Council urged the State Government to subsidise flights into Perth to allow airlines to offer discount fares.
“Other states have opened with discount interstate airfares as low as $39 one way,” CEO Evan Hall said.
“To compete, the State Government will need to invest in discount flights into Perth and regional WA,” he said.
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Flight numbers set to increase
Virgin Australia and Qantas said the addition of more direct services to Perth in coming weeks would bring down the cost of airfares.
Virgin Australia said it would progressively increase services from Sydney and Melbourne to Perth from next week.
By early January, it will operate 16 flights a week between Perth and Melbourne, and 14 flights a week between Perth and Sydney, with fares starting from $239 one way.
“The broader economic contribution that open borders will bring cannot be underestimated in what has been the most difficult year for many businesses, particularly in the tourism and hospitality industries,” Virgin Australia CEO and managing director Jayne Hrdlicka said.
Festive season family reunions are back on the cards for people on both sides of the country.(ABC News: Alisha O’Flaherty)
Qantas and Jetstar will operate more than 65 additional return flights from Perth to Melbourne and Sydney each week from December 14.
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Qantas flights to Perth from those cities will increase from around five per week to almost five times daily.
Both airlines plan to add further flights from December 8.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said it made “complete sense” for WA to reopen its borders with NSW and Victoria.
“This is news that many families and tourism operators have been waiting so long to hear, but they don’t want borders shutting again when there is a temporary spike in one state or another,” he said.
“Australia as a whole needs certainty about state borders staying open, particularly when the testing and tracing framework is now so well established.
“We continue to our call for a consistent set of rules that apply nationwide.”
The reopening of the border to NSW and Victoria leaves South Australia as the only jurisdiction from which travel to WA is banned. Although there are exceptions for those in South Australia who meet strict exemption criteria.
The same restrictions apply to anyone who drives or transits through South Australia from any other state or territory.
Those restrictions will remain until at least December 11 but will be reviewed next week.
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Direct flights from east coast into WA’s South West
And while it will not be happening in time for Christmas, Jetstar has already started advertising flights from the east coast directly to Busselton and Margaret River, with one-way tickets as low as $189.
Earlier this year the airline was forced to postpone plans to offer direct flights between Melbourne and WA’s South West as the pandemic took hold.
Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said he had been told Jetstar would begin flights from the recently upgraded Busselton Margaret River Airport within 10 weeks of the borders reopening.
“We were told in no uncertain terms that there were very healthy sales and far in advance of what had been projected by the airline,” Mr Henley said.
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‘We were so excited I burst into tears’
Meanwhile Leisha Freebury, from the Sydney suburb of Drummoyne, said she was “thrilled, relieved and overjoyed” to hear the WA Premier announce the removal of the NSW border restrictions.
“We were pretty concerned for a while there. We thought that it wouldn’t happen,” she said.
Leisha Freebury and her children Austin and Scarlett celebrated on the phone with family in Perth after hearing the latest border news.(ABC News: Andrew Whitington)
She said it meant her young family could now have its traditional five-week Christmas holiday in Perth.
“We were so excited, I actually burst into tears,” she said.
“For the children to see their grandparents and their great-grandmother, who is still around and she’s 92 years old, it’s just a very, very special time.”
Leisha Freebury is excited her children will be able to see their grandparents and their great-grandmother.(ABC News: Andrew Whitington)
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