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.
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