Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar.
Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar.

Politician demands cheaper flights for Central Qld

A CENTRAL Queensland MP has called for cheaper flights in regional areas, especially if taxpayer money is used to bail out an Australian airline.

Virgin Australia, which was placed in a trading halt on Tuesday, has been ramping up its campaign for a $1.4 billion loan from the Federal Government to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline recently announced it had suspended all its domestic flights except for a single Sydney to Melbourne return service, which has been running once per day, except for Saturdays.

This came after previously announcing that it had cut domestic capacity by 90 per cent and temporarily stood down 8000 of its 10,000 staff.

LNP Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said if the Federal Government decided to bail out Virgin Australia with taxpayers' money, there must be strict guarantees of lower airfares for rural and regional Queensland.

"Any bailout needs a guarantee for lower and affordable airfares to important regional centres like Emerald, Rockhampton and Mackay," Mr Millar said.

"It's not uncommon for regional airfares to be more expensive than international fares offered by the same carrier.

"Rural and regional Queenslanders should not have their hard-earned taxes used to bail out a company without an iron-clad guarantee to offer cheaper and better services."

Mr Millar said for too long airlines like Virgin had been using rural flight routes to line their pockets at the expense of rural and regional Queenslanders.

"If the taxpayer's wallet is going to open, the Federal Government needs to get an iron-clad guarantee that cheaper airfares and better services will be provided by Virgin to rural and regional Queensland," he said.

"It's time to get some bang for our buck for regional Queensland from any corporate bailouts."