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Disappointment as Virgin quits Geraldton

The Nationals WA have expressed disappointment at a decision by Virgin Australia to end its daily service between Perth and Geraldton.

Tourism and transport spokesperson Vince Catania said the decision reflected poorly on the McGowan Government’s commitment to Geraldton and the broader Mid West.

“Earlier this week you had the Labor Tourism Minister spruiking a new affordable airfare campaign to entice visitors from the eastern states to come to Perth,” Mr Catania said.

“Labor is throwing bucket loads of cash at the eastern states but perhaps the Government should sort out the issues in its own backyard first.”

Mr Catania said previous experience showed that when an airline pulled out of a regional market traditionally serviced by two companies, airfare prices tended to skyrocket.

“The people of Geraldton and surrounding communities deserve to have reliable and affordable air travel options to Perth,” he said.

“My Nationals colleagues and I are seeking answers from both the State Government and Qantas - the only remaining commercial passenger airline servicing the Mid West capital - with regards to ensuring airfares to and from Geraldton remain affordable,” she said.

“Cheaper flights are also crucial in luring tourists out of Perth and into regional WA.”

Mr Catania acknowledged community frustration had been building at the number of times Virgin flights to and from Geraldton had suffered delays.

Local MP Colin de Grussa said the McGowan Government was “sitting on its hands” when it came to delivering affordable flights to regional WA.

“One year on from a year-long parliamentary inquiry into regional airfares and the McGowan Government has nothing to show for it,” Mr de Grussa said. “In 12 months, the State Government has addressed three of 13 recommendations. A further three are a works in progress and seven are yet to be actioned or their status is unknown.

“The clear message for the past two years to this Government is that airfares to and from destinations in regional WA are way too high.

“To continue to consult for another 12 months means regional West Australians and the people that want to travel via air continue to suffer.”

Mr Catania said the State Government had to put subsidisation of air routes on the table, describing it as an essential regional service akin to Perth’s public transport network.