Canberra Airports says the federal government should step in and make airlines accountable for the high rate of cancellations on flights to and from the national capital and is calling for a national taskforce to investigate the issue.
Citing figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), Canberra Airport says travellers are getting a raw deal from the airlines when it comes to on-time performance, particularly on the Canberra-Sydney route.
The BITRE numbers show 8.1 per cent of flights from Canberra to Sydney were cancelled in September, well above the national long-term average of 1.4 per cent for all domestic scheduled flights. While there was a slight improvement in October with the cancellation rate on the route at 6.6 per cent, this was still far higher than the national average.
Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said the cancellations affected everyone from business travellers heading interstate for a meeting to those attending weddings, sporting events and concerts.
Byron said a national standard was required where the federal government, “as both the regulator of the aviation industry and as the protector of consumers steps in”.
“Canberrans are paying a premium price to choose air travel and their plans are being messed up because they are receiving an unreliable service,” Byron said in a statement on Thursday.
“In my view a monthly cancellation rate of more than five per cent warrants intervention by the federal government, and a demand for both an explanation and an improvement.”
As a short-term measure, Byron called on the federal government to establish a taskforce comprising representatives from Airservices, Canberra Airport, Sydney Airport, the Sydney Airport slot manage, Qantas and Virgin Australia to “investigate systemic problems”.