'What a rip-off': Price hike leaves Cowboys fans grounded
IF YOU were hoping to get down to Sydney this weekend to support the North Queensland Cowboys in the grand finals, you better have some deep pockets.
Flight prices have surged by almost double on the majority of airlines, with one way airfares exceeding $500.
Only a week ago there were still flights available on airlines like Jetstar and Virgin for between $200 to $275 one way - steep, but standard for Mackay to Sydney since the direct Virgin flight was cut.
Now to simply get to Sydney from any of the airlines you are looking at minimum of $400 one way, that's if you manage to snag what's left of the daytime flights with Virgin on Friday.
For the majority of people that have to work until 4.30pm, that jumps to $522.
Even budget airline Jetstar has hiked up prices, with all five flights out of Mackay on Friday ranging between $504 and $544.
The cheapest available flights are surprisingly with Qantas, who have some flights available early morning Friday for between $390 and $437, and $432 early Saturday.
However, if you don't want to book a 'Red-E-Deal', prices again jump up to between $475 and $984.
Whitsunday residents have it even worse, they are better off driving to Mackay and leaving their car at the airport for the weekend.
Jetstar flights out on the Friday are going for $688 and $718 one way, while Virgin is selling them at $462.
Even Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has weighed in on the price hike, saying airlines are taking advantage of North Queensland fans.
"Airlines who are ripping off customers in North Queensland again, after our brave Cowboys qualified for another NRL grand final should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
"Fair dinkum, they are like leaches sucking the blood out of my fellow North Queenslanders, it's no secret that countless people in the North are struggling after drought, cyclone & economic downturn and the Cowboys, who do an awesome job on and off the field, provide many North Queenslanders with something to cheer about.
"What is happening is completely unfair and unjustified and hence, tonight (Sunday) I have written to the consumer watchdog, the ACCC, and called on them to investigate.
"In the meantime, I invite constituents and non-constituents to come forward with their horror stories.”
LNP leader Tim Nicholls said ticket prices were unacceptable and airlines were using fans as 'cash cows' and simply looking to make a quick buck.
"It is totally unacceptable and un-Australian for airlines to start price gouging North Queensland Cowboys fans simply because their team made the grand final,” he said.
"Return flights from Townsville to Sydney are already costing more than $1100 with Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar and I suspect these prices will only increase dramatically over the coming days.
"I urge Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Virgin CEO John Borghetti and Jetstar CEO Dean Salter to keep a close eye on prices to ensure mums, dads and kids can afford to watch their beloved North Queensland Cowboys.”
Mr Nicholls said airlines have the opportunity to prove they are good corporate citizens and should cut North Queenslanders a break.
"North Queenslanders have been doing it tough over the past three years, with families struggling with rising power prices, record unemployment and increasing cost of living,” he said.
"They deserve to be given a break and a fair go and hopefully airline bosses don't simply look at them as an easy cash grab.
"North Queenslanders are a resilient bunch but one thing they won't cop is being treated like mugs.”