Airport offers airlines cash carrot to stop Sydney flight cancellations

Ian Bushnell 21 April 2020 21

Canberra Airport is prepared to pay Qantas and Virgin to cut flight cancellations on the Sydney route. File photo.

An exasperated Canberra Airport has resorted to offering cash incentives to airlines in a bid to reduce the high number of flight cancellations plaguing the Canberra-Sydney route.

The Airport is offering more than half a million dollars to the major airlines to stop Canberra to Sydney flight cancellations, which its says rose to 2.7 per cent for arriving flights and 3.2 per cent for departing flights in February 2018.

It says flight cancellations at Canberra Airport have been consistently above February’s national average of 1.3 per cent for too long.

The Airport says it has written to Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia, saying it will pay $100,000 per month for the next six months to the airline that successfully operates the Canberra to
Sydney route with a monthly cancellation rate at or below the national average for that month.

If both Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia beat the national average, then the carrier with the lowest number of cancelled flights will receive the monthly incentive.

The proposed incentive scheme also includes a key component to win back travellers who have lost faith in the reliability of service, with the incentive only payable if full and public explanations are given for any cancellation to any flight.

Managing Director of Canberra Airport Stephen Byron, said there was no reason why the Canberra-Sydney route should be subject to cancellation rates consistently above the national average and above comparable capital city routes.

“Our customers don’t deserve this,” he said.

“We are prepared to put our money where our mouth is to encourage airlines to stop the practise of cancelling flights and increase transparency about why flights are being cancelled. All we want is a fair go for our passengers who do not deserve a cancellation rate worse than what other travellers get around the country – just get us back to the national average.”

Mr Byron said a cancellation or a delay exceeding 30 minutes on the Canberra to Sydney route for a passenger undermined the entire rationale for flying.

“They feel they would have been better off and arrived sooner if they drove rather than paid the premium to fly. In our business, we know that every minute matters to our customers and we are constantly trying to shorten the time it takes for passengers to quickly move through the airport or disembark from their flights,” he said.

Canberra Airport said it had made available additional resources, such as an additional gate and aerobridge at the terminal, to ensure airlines did not encounter delays at peak periods due to gate unavailability.

The Airport had also invited the airlines and the Federal Government to participate in a collaborative taskforce with Air Services Australia and Sydney Airport to assess and implement measures to reduce the cancellation rate on the route.

What are your thoughts on this initiative? Do you think it will help reduce cancellation rates? Let us know by commenting below.

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21 Responses to Airport offers airlines cash carrot to stop Sydney flight cancellations
Dot Hepburn Dot Hepburn 10:42 am 06 Apr 18

Wonder if "operational issues" will be an approved reason for cancellation. It is poor form by the airlines to cancel so many flights. Maybe if the offered only the flights that actually run, or offered flights that don't run at the same time as eachother, there'd be better service

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 8:43 am 05 Apr 18

Last December, I had a 7am flight cancelled at 5:50am. I hadn't left home yet -- 40 minutes wait on the phone (at 6am!) to Qantas to rebook -- onto a 9:50am flight. Landed in Sydney at almost 11am. Ridiculous. Could have driven and arrived earlier. I now fly up the night before as a general rule.

Ed Fragar Ed Fragar 7:52 am 05 Apr 18

Typical waste of our money!

Konstantin Pristavka Konstantin Pristavka 1:09 am 05 Apr 18

What do passengers do in case of cancellation? Do they go home or what's the plan? Just interested.

    Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 2:51 pm 05 Apr 18

    In my experience, mostly they don't tell you it is cancelled at first. Just delayed. Later, close to the time of the next flight you get moved to that flight. One time they sent use to Brisbane instead to connect with a different Air New Zealand flight but forgot to tell Air NZ. Told us our bags were check through and gave us baggage tags for that but did not check them through. We got it all sorted in Brisbane so it ended OK but no thanks to the Canberra lack of airline service.

Deref Deref 5:48 pm 04 Apr 18

And they wonder why Murray’s Buses are doing well.

Justin Sev Justin Sev 10:16 am 04 Apr 18

Was hundreds of $$ cheaper for us to drive to Syd, pay for 9 days of parking to fly to the Goldy for the games. Same with Singapore flights..where are the cheap fares ?

Scheherazade Roberts Scheherazade Roberts 9:04 am 04 Apr 18

It’s the reason I don’t fly to Sydney to connect to an international flight. I take the bus or get a flight leaving from Melbourne!

Rodney TatStan Rodney TatStan 5:44 am 04 Apr 18

Keep the Murrays steaming!

David Johnston David Johnston 11:52 pm 03 Apr 18

I find Canberra Airport expensive to fly in and out of. Although the airport bus that finally commenced last year has made things cheaper it is usually far cheaper to take a bus to Sydney Airport and fly from there. I looked at flights at the end of the year to Europe and it was coming up $800 more ex Canberra on Skyscanner than out of Sydney. You can’t tell me it is worth $400 each way between Canberra and Sydney.

    Alan Sargeant Alan Sargeant 12:58 pm 05 Apr 18

    I do the same. The problem with tickets from Canberra toanywhere is that you get charged the full rate from Canberra to Sydney and then maybe a cheaper rate from Sydnmey/Melbourne to the overseas destination. I solve the problem by having two tickets and allowing plenty of time between flights to/from Sydney/Melbourne.

Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 11:05 pm 03 Apr 18

It will take a while for me to trust a Sydney flight to run. Shame the airlines don't care enough to do fix the problem without airport cash.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:53 pm 04 Apr 18

    Did you actually read the article? The airlines are not asking for a thing. It’s a stunt from the airport owners. Nothing more nothing less.

    Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 2:42 pm 05 Apr 18

    The Canberra Sydney route is about the most cancelled service in Australia. Have you flown the route? If you have done it a few times you will have had your flight cancelled. If you were intending to connect with an international flight then you will gave quickly realised that you need a better way to do that. Maybe take the bus. Murray's are up to two most hours now. Of cause the airlines are not asking. That is my point. They don't value customers.

Catherine Ford Catherine Ford 10:07 pm 03 Apr 18

Never fly to Sydney - always quicker to drive and no chance of’s cheaper too!

Rose Deo Rose Deo 7:45 pm 03 Apr 18

Cheaper flights = more passengers on planes = less cancelled flights!

Ben Gordon Ben Gordon 7:42 pm 03 Apr 18

We're always happy to spend two and a half hours driving to Sydney to catch our flights. The money saved is worth it, even after paying for long-stay parking. Qantas & Virgin are kidding if they think the average "Joe" will pay those prices!

Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 5:58 pm 03 Apr 18

Karen is right, drop the prices. At times you are asked to pay $600 one way which is insane

Claire McGreevy Claire McGreevy 5:55 pm 03 Apr 18

Cash would be better spent compensating passengers.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:46 pm 03 Apr 18

Why doesn’t Canberra Airport run their own airline service Canberra – Sydney return several times a day?

They could also throw in free parking for users of the service – that’s something that Murrays Coaches can’t do.

Karen Louise Karen Louise 4:57 pm 03 Apr 18

Cheaper flights and more people would fly. Seriously you can fly Brisbane-Melbourne for $99 sometimes.

Canberra to Sydney is ridiculous 🤬

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