Qantas 737s Melbourne
Qantas takes out the dubious honour of having the most expensive domestic airfares. Photo: Matt Graham.

With Rex sparking a price war on routes like Sydney-Melbourne and Melbourne-Canberra, Qantas offering discounted tickets for couples flying to Perth, and half-price flights available to many destinations, there’s never been a cheaper time to fly in Australia… depending on where you live!

Airfares on some Australian domestic routes are now as low as ever, but many other domestic routes remain very expensive. We checked the current airfares on many Australian domestic routes to find out exactly which are the most expensive. If you live somewhere like Perth, Darwin, Broome, Canberra, Alice Springs or Mount Isa, there’s some bad news for you…

There are several different ways to measure which are the most expensive flights. But regardless of which metric you use, they all have one thing in common: Qantas.

These are the most expensive domestic flights in Australia, using various different measures:

  • Most expensive Economy ticket price: Qantas from Sydney to Broome ($597 one-way)
  • Most expensive Business class ticket price: Qantas from Perth to Sydney ($2,572 one-way)
  • Most expensive Economy airfare per km flown: Qantas from Cloncurry to Mt Isa ($1.87/km) or Qantas from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island ($1.27/km)
  • Most expensive Business airfare per km flown: Qantas from Canberra to Sydney ($3.14/km)

Here’s how we came up with these titles…

The most expensive domestic routes based on ticket prices

For the purposes of this article, we checked the lowest regularly available airfare on direct, scheduled passenger flights outside of specific, limited-time sales or promotions like the half-price airfares deal.

The most expensive route we found is a Qantas flight from Sydney to Broome, where an Economy class ticket starts from $597 one-way. So, if you wanted to take a family of four on holiday from Sydney to Broome, you could expect to pay at least $4,776 just on airfares! During normal times, you could have flown to the United States for less than that.

And on many dates, such as 7 August 2021, the fares are even higher than that.

Qantas SYD-BME fares
Qantas fares from Sydney to Broome on 7 August 2021.

This was closely followed by Virgin Australia’s route from Perth to Christmas Island, where Economy class fares rarely drop barely $588 one-way (and are often even more expensive than this, with one-way fares regularly sitting around $923).

The most expensive Business class flight within Australia is with Qantas from Perth to Sydney, where a Business ticket normally costs $2,572 for the 4-hour flight. This is followed by Qantas’ direct Sydney-Broome service, which makes a second appearance with Business class tickets starting from $2,328 one-way. That’s an expensive ticket for a 5-hour flight on a Boeing 737! The Melbourne-Broome route takes third place, with $2,327 Business class airfares.

Qantas Boeing 737-800 Business Class
Qantas 737 Business Class is nice, but is it really worth paying $2,328 for a 5-hour flight? Photo: Qantas.

The most expensive Economy airfares based on distance flown

Of course, routes like Sydney-Broome are also some of Australia’s longest domestic flights. So, you would expect them to be more expensive than a shorter flight. With this in mind, we also calculated the cost of airfares per kilometre flown on many Australian domestic routes.

These are the top 10 most expensive routes based on the distance travelled:

  1. Qantas from Cloncurry to Mount Isa ($199 to fly 106km, or $1.87/km)
  2. Airnorth from Elcho Island to Maningrida ($259 to fly 145km, or $1.79/km)
  3. Qantas from Barcaldine to Longreach ($150 to fly 106km, or $1.41/km)
  4. Qantas from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island ($159 to fly 126km, or $1.27/km)
  5. Rex from Griffith to Narrandera ($74 to fly 64km, or $1.15/km)
  6. Airnorth from Gove to Groote Eylandt ($194 to fly 193km, or $1.01/km)
  7. Qantas from Blackall to Longreach ($144 to fly 161km, or $0.89/km)
  8. Qantas from Canberra to Sydney ($187 to fly 236km, or $0.79/km)
  9. Rex from Grafton to Lismore ($75 to fly 105km, or $0.72/km)
  10. Airnorth from Darwin to Milingimbi ($302 to fly 438km, or $0.69/km)

Clearly, paying $199 to fly 106km from Cloncurry to Mt Isa is ridiculously expensive. But it would be unfair to label this as Australia’s most expensive route because it’s a short tag sector forming part of Qantas’ Townsville-Cloncurry-Mount Isa route. Although Qantas sells tickets from Cloncurry to Mount Isa on this service, most of the passengers would be continuing to/from Townsville. It’s a similar story for 7 of the top 10 most expensive routes by distance, many of which are part of triangle services connecting multiple regional airports to a major city.

If we remove short regional tag flights from our list, these are the top 10 most expensive domestic flights on routes designed for point-to-point connectivity:

  1. Qantas from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island ($159 to fly 126km, or $1.27/km)
  2. Qantas from Canberra to Sydney ($187 to fly 236km, or $0.79/km)
  3. Airnorth from Darwin to Milingimbi ($302 to fly 438km, or $0.69/km)
  4. Qantas from Sydney to Lord Howe Island ($481 to fly 787km, or $0.61/km)
  5. Airnorth from Darwin to Elcho Island ($311 to fly 513km, or $0.61/km)
  6. Skytrans from Cairns to Aurukun ($304 to fly 584km, or $0.52/km)
  7. Rex from Dubbo to Broken Hill ($264 to fly 671km, or $0.39/km)
  8. Airnorth from Darwin to Gove ($252 to fly 647km, or $0.39/km)
  9. Qantas from Perth to Kalgoorlie ($209 to fly 537km, or $0.39/km)
  10. Airnorth from Darwin to Groote Eylandt ($232 to fly 629km, or $0.37/km)

These routes are followed by several Qantas intra-WA routes such as Perth-Paraburdoo, as well as the Darwin-Alice Springs route.

By comparison, you’d be paying less than 6 cents per kilometre to fly with Rex or Virgin Australia from Sydney to Melbourne on one of their $39 airfares.

The most expensive Business Class airfares based on distance flown

So, those are the most expensive routes in Australia for Economy class airfares. But what about Business class prices?

Using the same metric of “dollars per kilometre flown”, these are the most expensive Business Class flights in Australia:

  1. Qantas from Canberra to Sydney ($742 to fly 236km, or $3.14/km)
  2. Qantas from Canberra to Melbourne ($892 to fly 470km, or $1.90/km)
  3. Qantas from Melbourne to Launceston ($833 to fly 476km, or $1.75/km)
  4. Qantas from Sydney to Coffs Harbour ($735 to fly 441km, or $1.67/km)
  5. Qantas from Perth to Kalgoorlie ($802 to fly 537km, or $1.49/km)
  6. Qantas from Perth to Newman ($1,178 to fly 1,017km or $1.16/km)
  7. Qantas from Perth to Karratha ($1,292 to fly 1,247km or $1.04/km)
  8. Qantas from Perth to Port Hedland ($1,348 to fly 1,308km or $1.03/km)
  9. Qantas from Adelaide to Alice Springs ($1,300 to fly 1,313km or $0.99/km)
  10. Qantas from Brisbane to Alice Springs ($1,893 to fly 1,968km or $0.96/km)
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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

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David

Well this is massively off the mark. Dubbo to Broken Hill or vice versa (or Sydney to Broken Hill) with Rex is regularly out there for 650 plus via Rex.

John Rosewarne

And what about Jetstar? Following the withdrawal of the only Alice/Uluru flight by Qantas, we had to fly Jetstar Sydney/Uluru/Sydney in economy (as there isn’t anything else) in April for a staggering $2,257 return for two of us – that’s at least as bad as the Sydney/Broome flight mentioned above