A proposed deal between the Australian government and Qantas to reduce ticket prices for official trips in exchange for the surrendering of frequent flyer points has gone through.
Though specific terms have not been released, it is estimated that the discount is about five percent.
Prior to the deal, which could potentially save the government $1 million a year, Ministers of Parliament were free to earn points on official trips that could be redeemed for personal use. Though the deal does not expressly forbid such practices now, MP’s are “encouraged” to use their points to defray the cost of official travel.
Nick Venter of the Dominion Post reports that similar deals have been suggested in New Zealand but, according to MPs, have been impossible to negotiate. Speaker Jonathan Hunt said 18 months ago that the Parliamentary Service Commission had unsuccessfully tried to reach a deal with airlines for several years.
Use of New Zealand MPs’ free travel privileges is conditional upon MPs agreeing to surrender their air points when they retire.
Venter says that that restriction is rarely enforced.