by Kristen Booth
YOU often hear city commuters complain that traffic turns what should be a five-minute drive into a half-hour nightmare.
Well, they should spare a thought for Moranbah residents who, instead of taking a five-minute drive to the local airport, are being forced to drive more than two hours to Mackay or Proserpine to then catch a near two-hour flight to Brisbane.
The regional town is seeing flight prices over $1000 return Moranbah to Brisbane and some days, over $1000 one-way.
When you consider return flights from Brisbane to New York cost less there is no wonder residents are up in arms.
Moranbah resident Michelle Henderson travels regularly throughout the year for both work and leisure with her family, and has been forced to travel to various airports to beat the high prices at her local airport.
"I really don't think these prices are acceptable, when I have flown from Mackay to Melbourne at a price of $436,” she said.
"I have flown from Proserpine and Mackay, which still ends up cheaper, even paying for fuel and parking.
"In November (2017), I flew from Proserpine to Brisbane for $220 return.”
Mrs Henderson said she didn't know why prices were soaring when a return flight from Brisbane, which cost close to $1000, had fewer than 10 people on board.
"I really do not understand why the prices for all flights are so high, when last week, with a $990 return flight, the inward leg to Brisbane had seven people on it,” Mrs Henderson said.
"In the last few months I have had prices ranging from $991 and $396, at an average price of $662.”
Late last year, Qantas announced a 10-30per cent discount for all Moranbah residents on return flights from Moranbah on a 12-month trial basis.
"It would still make the flights double that of Mackay or Proserpine but anything is better than now,” Mrs Henderson said.
To access the discounted fares, residents need to be members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, which automatically links to their residential address.
The usual joining fee of $89.50 is being waived for Moranbah residents.
President of the Moranbah Traders Association Trehan Stenton said the discount would be great for residents but wouldn't really benefit the businesses.
"A lot of the problems occurring are with short-term bookings,” he said.
"If you have to travel in the next couple of days, that's when it's the most expensive.
"For businesses trying to bring in people to fix or service things for emergencies, you are still going to be paying those high fares anyway.
"If I'm making last minute bookings, I'm always going to travel out of Mackay to give me better availability and better pricing.
"It's an extra two-hour drive and you still have to pay for parking, but it's still cheaper than trying to fly out of Moranbah.”