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Local Fare Scheme—airfare subsidy for Cape York, Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait

We subsidise airfares to help social connectivity and access to essential services for eligible residents of remote communities in Far North Queensland.

On this page:

About the scheme

The Department of Transport and Main Roads runs the scheme with the assistance of local councils and authorities, and the airlines that operate Regular Passenger Transport flights in the region.

The scheme has been in place since 2015 and will run until 30 June 2028. In July 2022 it was extended and revised to provide additional benefits for eligible residents after consultation with key stakeholders. 

Key features include:

One-way fares and discounts

  • You can book one-way fares.
  • You will receive up to $200 discount for each one-way flight.
  • A minimum fare of $99 plus booking fee per flight applies.

Travel throughout Local Fare Scheme region

  • You can travel anywhere in the Local Fare Scheme region.
  • You can use the scheme for up to 24 flights per financial year.
  • You will be able to fly to any participating airport, even if you need to take more than one flight to get there.
  • If you need to take more than one flight to reach your destination within the Scheme region, each flight will be eligible for subsidised fares.

For more information on eligibility, see the eligible communities and participating airports sections. 

Residency period required for eligibility

  • To be eligible for access to the Local Fare Scheme you must be a resident within the Local Fare Scheme region for 12 months (except Weipa which requires 3 years).

Transferring residency location

  • If you move to another community within the Local Fare Scheme region, you simply take your valid Letter of Eligibility with you and it remains valid for travel.

Personal travel only

  • The scheme cannot be used for business travel.

How to apply and book travel

Step 1—Complete the application form 

You will need to complete the application form and provide proof of identity and proof of residential address detailed in the eligibility section of the form. You will need to provide copies of these documents for step 2. 

Step 2—Apply for your Letter of Eligibility

You can apply for a Letter of Eligibility at your local council. Weipa residents can apply at the Weipa Town Authority. 

Take your completed application form and your proof of identity, eligibility and residential address. 

How to demonstrate eligibility

For Weipa residents: Visit the Weipa Town Authority and demonstrate that you currently live and have lived in the region for at least the last 3 years. 

For other residents in the Scheme Region: Visit your local council and demonstrate that you currently live and have lived in the region for at least the last 12 months. 

If approved, your local council or the Weipa Town Authority will issue you a Letter of Eligibility.

You should get a response to your application no later than 5 working days from submission.

If you already have a current Letter of Eligibility issued under the scheme, you do not need to apply for a new one.  Your existing letter remains valid.

Keep your Letter of Eligibility safe, it is an important document and will be needed each time you want to make a booking.  If you lose your letter, you may request a replacement.

Step 3—Buy your ticket for your travel

To access subsidised airfares through the scheme you must:

  • Contact your ticketing agent to buy your ticket.
  • Provide your Letter of Eligibility when you make the booking.
  • Book your flight/s between eligible airports or between an eligible airport and Cairns or Mt Isa airports.
  • Confirm to the ticketing agent that travel is for personal and not for business-related purposes (refer to the Conditions of the scheme).

If you're travelling with 2 airlines, the second airline won't be aware of joining flights from another airline. Always make sure you and your ticketing agent allow plenty of time for the connection between the 2 airlines.  If you miss the second flight due to not enough time for the connection, it could be treated as a no-show and you may have to buy another fare to complete your travel. 

Step 4—On your travel day 

  • Bring your photo ID and your booking/ticketing information when you make your journey.
  • If you only have a one-way ticket, bring your Letter of Eligibility with you, you will need it when you book your return journey. 

Eligible airport locations

Local fare scheme map showing locations in Queensland of eligible airports inclduing: Aurukun, Bamaga, Badu Island, Coconut (Poruma) Island, Coen, Darnley (Erub) Island, Doomadgee, Horn , Ngurupai) Island, Kowanyama, Kubin Island, Lockhart River, Mabuiag Island, Mornington Island, (Gununa), Murray (Mer) Island, Pormpuraaw, Saibai Island, Sue (Warraber) Island, Talbot (Boigu) , Island, Weipa, Yam (Iama) Island, Yorke (Masig) Island.Flights can be taken to and from Mount Isa and Cairns but the scheme does not apply to residents of these locations. 

Torres Strait Islands

  • Badu Island
  • Coconut (Poruma) Island
  • Darnley (Erub) Island
  • Horn (Ngurupai) Island
  • Kubin Island
  • Mabuiag Island
  • Murray (Mer) Island
  • Saibai Island
  • Sue (Warraber) Island
  • Talbot (Boigu) Island
  • Yam (Iama) Island
  • Yorke (Masig) Island

Cape York Peninsula

  • Aurukun
  • Bamaga
  • Coen
  • Kowanyama
  • Lockhart River
  • Pormpuraaw
  • Weipa

Gulf of Carpentaria

  • Doomadgee
  • Mornington Island (Gununa)

Eligible communities

Torres Strait Islands

  • Badu Island
  • Coconut (Poruma) Island
  • Dauan Island
  • Darnley (Erub) Island
  • Hammond Island
  • Horn (Ngurupai), including residents of Prince of Wales (Muralug) Island and Thursday Island
  • Kubin Island
  • Mabuiag Island
  • Murray (Mer) Island
  • Saibai Island
  • St Pauls Island
  • Sue (Warraber) Island
  • Talbot (Boigu) Island
  • Ugar Island
  • Yam (Iama) Island
  • Yorke (Masig) Island 

Cape York Peninsula

  • Aurukun
  • Bamaga
  • Coen
  • Kowanyama
  • Lockhart River
  • Mapoon
  • Napranum
  • Pormpuraaw
  • Portland Roads
  • Weipa

Gulf of Carpentaria

  • Doomadgee
  • Mornington Island (Gununa)

More information

Travelling multiple flights and applying for the subsidy

If you travel on multiple flights to reach your destination, such as from the outer Torres Strait communities to Cairns, you can receive the subsidy for each flight if you are travelling within the scheme region.

Check with your ticketing agent to ensure that the scheme subsidy is properly applied to fares for each flight.

Missing your flight

If you miss a flight, you may be suspended or permanently removed from accessing the scheme.  

Can I use my Letter of Eligibility to book subsidised fares if I have left the Local Fare Scheme region?

No, you must advise the local council or Authority that issued your Letter of Eligibility if you have relocated outside the Local Fare Scheme region.

I've travelled to a place I haven’t visited before. I'm now ready to go home, how do I book my return ticket?

Contact the local council in your location to establish your local ticketing agent contact details. If you are in Cairns or Mt Isa, contact your Letter of Eligibility issuing council for assistance.

Contact us about the scheme

You can provide feedback at any time by emailing localfarescheme@translink.com.au.

Conditions of the scheme

  • Subject to the scheme conditions, a subsidy is available for each one-way airfare booked for travel by an eligible resident with a participating airline between:
    • eligible airports in the scheme region
      or
    • an eligible airport in the scheme region and Cairns or Mt Isa airports.
  • The amount of the subsidy for each one-way airfare is up to $200 (including GST), which is paid by the department to the relevant airline.
  • The minimum out-of-pocket amount payable by (or for) the traveller for a one-way airfare under the scheme (after the subsidy is applied) is $99 (including GST) plus booking fees. This means that based on the cost of the airfare, the actual amount of the subsidy may be less than the maximum $200.
  • The availability of subsidised airfares at various price points will be at the airline's discretion and the department does not give any assurance about the availability of subsidised airfares for travel.
  • Subsidised airfares must be for travel that will be completed by the end date of the travel period for the scheme (currently ending 30 June 2028).
  • All airfare rules will be in accordance with the fare type booked, as set by the relevant airline.
  • The scheme applies only to airfares for personal travel and subsidised airfares under the scheme are not available for any form of business-related travel.
  • Residents must be issued with a Letter of Eligibility through their participating local council, or for Weipa residents from the Weipa Town Authority, before being able to book subsidised airfares under the scheme. If you have a valid Letter of Eligibility issued prior to 1 July 2022, it will remain valid.
  • Eligible Residents can access a maximum of 24 subsidised one-way airfares under the scheme per financial year.
  • Subsidised airfares under the scheme are not eligible on charter services.
  • The department retains the right to change any aspect of the scheme at any time, including but not limited to, the subsidy amount, eligible communities, seat availability and/or eligibility requirements.
  • The scheme may be extended, cancelled or ceased early.  
  • Failure to present for a flight for which a subsidised airfare has been booked under the scheme may result in suspension or removal of an individual from the scheme.
  • Failure to comply with the scheme conditions may result in:
    • A requirement to repay an amount equivalent to the subsidy amount paid by the department for the relevant airfare
    • Suspension or removal of an individual from the scheme.
Last updated
10 October 2022