Air traffic: Looking down on Alice


2552 Qantas indigenous livery OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Qantas is sharply reducing services to and from Alice Springs while increasing its direct flights from around the nation to Ayers Rock Resort.
The move is praised by Tourism Minister Lauren Moss who is keeping silent on the impact of the changes may have on the tourism business in The Alice.
The airline’s flights between Alice Springs and Perth will be reduced from seven to two a week, and Qantas will cease flights between Cairns and Alice altogether, pointing out that connections are available via Ayers Rock Resort.
There will be cheaper flights for Alice Springs residents – so long as they want to go to Darwin. There is no mention on the Qantas website about the huge fares it charges to anywhere else.
Discounts to and from Darwin of up to 30% are available now “for personal travel” for up to 12 return flights a year, says the Qantas website.
These are clearly not available for flights paid for by the taxpayer.
However, bureaucrats and politicians commuting between Darwin and Alice will no doubt be pleased that Qantas is introducing “Business Class and inflight entertainment, including fast, free WiFi on selected flights” flying that route. (We are checking with the government who in the NT public service and instrumentalities qualifies for Business Class, and which politicians.)
Qantas says it will launch two new routes to Uluru (Ayers Rock Airport) from both Darwin and Adelaide – providing more opportunity for tourists to The Centre bypassing Alice Springs.
This is not stopping Minister Moss from gushing that the “announcement from Qantas was a continued vote of confidence in the NT and proof that the NT Government’s ongoing focus on attracting more holiday and business visitors to stimulate the economy was paying dividends.
“Research by the Department of Tourism and Culture earlier this year showed that 68% of travellers from Asia would consider taking a direct flight between Darwin and Uluru. 49% of interstate and international visitors to Uluru also spend at least one night in Alice Springs, so more flights into Uluru is good news for the whole of Central Australia,” Minister Moss says.
That’s fewer than half of the visitors to The Rock including Alice.
“We have been advocating for some time for a direct Darwin-Uluru service because of its potential to deliver a significant tourism and jobs boost in both the Top End and Central Australia. It’s great to have Qantas respond to that call”.
Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David makes it clear that direct flights from around the country to Ayers Rock Resort is where the money is: “Uluru is in more demand from international and interstate tourists than we have seen in a long time. In the past few years the Qantas group has added new routes and more flights to Uluru from Brisbane and Sydney and now Adelaide and Darwin.”
Statement by Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon:-
Changes to the Qantas and Jetstar network are at the expense of regional Territorians in Central Australia.
I am disappointed at the timing of the announcement and the lack of prior consultation regarding the detail of the changes with key stakeholders here.
My office was contacted on Monday afternoon at 2pm with an offer of a phone briefing on Tuesday morning of what changes Qantas would be making. Qantas announced the changes on Tuesday morning.
Key stakeholders have expressed similar comments on social media and radio interviews on the ABC.
The discounted fare offer and increased capacity for leisure travel to Darwin is welcomed but Centralians are constantly traveling to other capital cities paying premium prices for airfares and there is no discount on these fares.
There will now be less capacity for Centralians to travel directly to Cairns and Perth.
I am arranging a face to face meeting to be fully briefed on the detail of the changes and impact on Central Australia.
I can appreciate that Qantas have made  these route changes to increase inbound tourism into the Territory and the NT Government is supportive of those changes and there will be increased economic benefit to Yulara and the rest of Central Australia, but Alice Springs will have less capacity to access Qantas flights as of April 2019.


  1. It was telling of the propaganda machine that the NT Media release spun the change in flights as a tourism win whilst most media reported it for what it is – a cut in flights between Alice and Cairns and Perth.
    The Tourism Ministers positive news is a vague silver lining at best.
    Of interest is that the NTG has also announced that the scheme of giving away free flights to international tourist has been extended. Not because the scheme is successful but rather because they failed to be able to give away FREE flights.
    When you can’t give free flights away, you know there is a problem!
    Of course, this news coincides with a substantial increase in crime in the region: Crime against person up 15.7% and property up 3.4% in year to 31/08/2018.

  2. Can any Minister stand up for The Alice? No, there appears to be a distinctive lack of caring for the town in all forms. Good work Minister Moss for doing nothing for the town.

  3. So now I better ask my elderly father to let me know what day is going to die so I can arrange my flight since Qantas cutting flights to WA.
    Also now Alice Springs suffers again in the economy and Darwin wins.
    We need another plane service here in Alice Springs.

  4. Yes, a very sad development for our town.
    Sadder still to see the Minister for Tourism’s spin on the “benefits” for our local tourism businesses, when in fact it will prove to be another nail in the coffin for us.
    That said, I save my deepest criticism for our local government leadership, or lack of, for not undertaking the planning that is needed to change our town and again make it a destination in its own right.
    Crime statistics, alcohol abuse, homelessness, falling population numbers and the like are just the symptoms. The cause of our malaise is incompetence at the top.

  5. Interesting to hear that the Alice Springs Airport was blindsided by Qantas’s announcement for flight schedule changes and deletions.
    I wonder if that offers any portents about our chances of hosting the airline’s second pilot school? Far from being The Centre, we seem more and more to be on the outer.

  6. @ Psuedo Guru: Please get real and stop putting the cart before the horse.
    We will have all the budget flights we can handle when we have re-built Alice Springs as a destination worth visiting.
    Our image internationally and nationally at the moment is on the nose and our town will just continue going down the gurgler until we stop denying that reality and set about doing something to turn it around.

  7. “There will now be less capacity for Centralians to travel directly to Cairns and Perth.”
    It has been like this for a longtime: Qantas wanting to fill up its planes had Cairn – Perth directed to Alice Springs with a feeble excuse and Alice Springs Perth cancelled with another excuse.
    Then, everybody was put on a Melbourne flight, made to wait for hours for a Perth flight. Tough, like if your holidays or business were ruined.

  8. After nearly 30 years of the tourism industry adjusting to the fact that Yulara has an airstrip, why is this still being used as an excuse to explain the demise of the number of tourists coming to Alice Springs?
    You have a tainted destination with its anti social issues, young kids running around all hours of the night, terrorising anyone walking out of the venues in the town.
    It’s fantastic to have security at the doors but it doesn’t make visitors feel safe travelling to and from their accommodation.
    Being humbugged by drunks asking for dollars while trying to go to shopping centres, all of this adds up over time.
    Fix this and you fix your image, as Central Australia has some of the most iconic scenery and destinations in Australia to visit.
    As history shows people will come to see it on holiday and that’s what they want – a holiday not get immersed into local anti social issues.
    The new airline schedules should be looked at as a new opportunity now to assist Darwin to become a choice international landing city instead of flying over it to land interstate. Again another opportunity lost to Alice – this should have been done years ago.
    With it having more direct international flights to Darwin then on to Uluru, these are numbers who most likely weren’t going to Alice Springs anyway. w
    Why not look at this as another opportunity to complete projects like the loop road around King Canyon and attract these new visitors to the Western MacDonnell Ranges and on to Alice Springs from Uluru.
    In regards to locals getting cheaper flights – what about Virgin, supporting them more and they might return the favour.
    Why after all these years are we finally hearing from the Member for Lingari on this? There must be elections soon. Should be a great windfall for his electorate, as over 40% of the population in the area is Indigenous and the new flights are going to Australia’s biggest Indigenous hospitality training college, this should be looked at as a fantastic vote of confidence for future employment in the industry.
    Instead of a big talk fest now on what has happened, how about one on the opportunities this is creating.
    Would be so good to hear some action on what has been appropriately called parking the ambulance at the top of the cliff instead of at the bottom all of the time.

  9. It’s all well and good we blame the government but Alice Springs people voted them. We were lucky when Giles was in power he lived here and looked after both Alice Springs and Darwin.
    So the writing is on the wall. You voted Labor in, so stop complaining that they are not looking after Alice Springs.

  10. Can’t help but being a cynic, direct flights from China then on to The Rock for 24 hours and back to Darwin to catch the return flight to China, with a short time spent in Darwin and surrounds.
    What else have the Government cooked up?
    As for the press release saying how good it all is, just more spin and garbage pumped out by half baked minders who would have difficulty getting a real job.

  11. When an employee fails to work for a business, that employee is sacked.
    Sack Lauren Moss.
    They are useless as employees in everything Alice Springs.
    Full of distortions of the facts and truth.

  12. Sad to see Hon Lauren Moss MLA not fighting for Alice Springs and its survival.
    What sort of Tourism Minister is she? Thanks to Warren our Federal MP to speak up for us.
    After all he lives here with us and so is his large family.
    Perhaps seeing it in reverse, to increase the number of flights and making them slightly cheaper will incite people to come here and locals to go south east and west more often, therefore increasing the number of sales two-ways. A win-win?

  13. I am not at all surprised this government is happy to announce the cut in services to Alice Springs.
    The cuts are to the benefit Darwin, which has a failing tourist economy, and props up even more the Uluru experience.
    I would not be surprised if they announce they will be funding more accommodation in Yulara due to demand after Alice Springs has seen over the years many motels / caravan parks close.
    Their true colours will shine. Alice Springs is the loser for sure.
    But hey, if they can’t do much in two years to reduce the crime with smashed car windows, break ins etc that are happening every single night, what do we expect from this Darwin focused government?


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