Cheaper flights will take off

The announcement of $109 Community Fares being offered by Regional Express between Port Lincoln and Adelaide comes after years of calls for cheaper airfares on the route.

While there will always be some people who would like to see fares go even lower, there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the news on the Port Lincoln Times Facebook page last week.

Passenger numbers through Port Lincoln Airport have been steadily falling in recent years, with 2018 passenger numbers down 6000 from 2017, following a drop of more than 7000 the year before.

The aim of the scheme is to increase these numbers and it would be hard to see this not happening.

It is not surprising that Rex has implemented community fare schemes on many of its routes around Australia with other South Australian communities like Kangaroo Island and Ceduna among the latest to join the scheme earlier this year.

In a submission to a Senate inquiry by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee into regional air services earlier this year, Rex's network strategy and sales general manager Warrick Lodge said experience with the scheme on other routes had shown it took a couple of years for Community Fares to build passenger numbers.

However there will be immediate benefits for the many local people who fly (or would like to fly) to Adelaide for work, leisure or health reasons, and over the longer term for local businesses that stand to benefit from an increase in visitors to the region.

It remains to be seen just how many last minute $109 fares will be available and how far out people will have to book to take advantage of the limited $109 fares available 30 days or more before the flight, especially once word spreads, but for those who get them they will provide welcome relief, making air travel a lot more affordable.