Western Australia’s Perth Airport is planning to invest $80 million on projects to underpin the future growth of regional aviation in Western Australia within the Airport Central precinct.
This will include the construction of a new $35 million maintenance hangar for Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) – Virgin Australia Group’s regional and charter flying operation – and additional aviation support facilities.
Growth in FIFO demand
The latest investment is driven in a large part by the growing demand for FIFO travel services in Western Australia.
Fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) air travel demand in Western Australia refers to the transportation of workers from their place of residence to a work site in a remote or regional area.
This type of travel is common in Western Australia, which has a significant mining industry that requires a large workforce.
FIFO travel is characterized by workers flying into a remote work site for a period of time, typically several weeks, and then flying back to their home city for a period of rest before returning to the work site.
FIFO demand in Western Australia has fluctuated over the years in response to changes in the mining industry. However, in recent years, there has been a trend towards increasing demand for FIFO travel.
According to a report by the Western Australian Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science, and Innovation, the number of FIFO workers in Western Australia increased from approximately 54,000 in 2014 to approximately 64,000 in 2019.
This growth can be attributed to several factors, including increased investment in the mining sector, the development of new mining projects, and a shift towards a more flexible workforce model.
Perth Airport Acting Chief Executive Officer, Kate Holsgrove said that the overall growth in FIFO and regional passenger movements over the past three years made it timely to invest in new capacity and facilities.
“This project is a key enabler for the future growth of T2 and the wider centralisation process and we are delighted to partner with VARA to support their growth in Western Australia,” she said.
“We are pleased VARA will support this new maintenance hangar and apron facility once it is built in September 2024.”
VARA Executive General Manager, Nathan Miller noted that Perth and Western Australia were an extremely important part of Virgin Australia’s business.
He said the project demonstrated the airline’s commitment to the West and its VARA operation.
“Our fleet renewal program is well underway and will strengthen our resources and contract flying in Western Australia. The program means larger, more fuel efficient 737-700 aircraft will join the fleet as we phase out our F100s,” he said.
“This upgrade of our facility is another important step forward for VARA and will enable a more efficient and flexible operation from our Perth Airport base.”
Maintenance and engineering facilities
VARA has committed to an Agreement for Lease of the new maintenance hangar and apron facility, which will allow VARA to operate more efficiently by consolidating its warehouse, storage, and engineering and maintenance office facilities in one location.
Ms Holsgrove said Perth Airport would also develop the Aviation Support Precinct near T2.
“This area will be reserved for operations that require airside access and apron areas for aeronautical operations, including hangarage, ground support providers, flight catering and airfreight logistics,” she said.
“This provides another opportunity for airlines to grow their business in Perth.”
“Perth Airport’s vision to consolidate all commercial air services at Airport Central aligns with Master Planning dating back to the 1970s and we are excited to start the next stages of development.”