Rising fuel costs have forced Qantas to cancel some of its flights to regional Tasmania and South Australia. Qantas Group General Manager Regional Airlines Narendra Kumar said Qantas would:
* cease operations to its two South Australian ports, Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln, on 28 June;
* cease operation to Burnie in Tasmania on 31 July;
* replace daily Qantas B737 Launceston-Melbourne services with double daily Dash 8 services on 1 August; and
* maintain Jetstar’s 21 A320 jet return services a week between Launceston and Melbourne.
“The Qantas Group operates more than two million seats a year in and out of Tasmania, and more than 600,000 of them fly empty,” Mr Kumar said.
“Passenger numbers on the Burnie route have dropped by 20 per cent over the past two years and loads on Qantas B737 Launceston services have declined to below 60 per cent.
“In the current environment of escalating fuel prices, we cannot continue to absorb losses on these routes.
“Moving to double daily Dash 8 frequencies between Launceston and Melbourne will address the issue of excess capacity on the route and at the same time offer passengers better connections in Melbourne,” he said.
Mr Kumar said that Jetstar would also continue to operate daily non-stop Launceston-Sydney service and three non-stop services between Brisbane and Launceston each week using its 177-seat A320 aircraft.
“The Group will provide more than 12,100 seats in and out of Launceston each week, with our Tasmania capacity seven per cent higher than it was two years ago.”
Mr Kumar said that in South Australia, Port Lincoln loads had averaged only 45 per cent over the past two months, with Kangaroo Island services to Adelaide averaging 40 per cent and Kangaroo Island-Melbourne services only 25 per cent.
Mr Kumar said QantasLink would increase its turboprop capacity in regional Australia by 19 per cent in 2006/07, with plans to expand services to a range of destinations including:
* Dubbo, Tamworth and Port Macquarie in New South Wales;
* Longreach, Charleville and Roma in Queensland; and
* Mildura in Victoria.