LONDON – Western Australia’s Aviair is looking to acquire a 70 seat turboprop to serve the subsidised routes by the Australian government. Aviair is a regional airline, charter flight operator, regular public transport (RPT) operator and scenic air tour operator. The regional operator operates out of Broome and Karratha, Western Australia and is headquartered in Kununurra.
New Government Funding Offers Options
The Western Australian Regional Government is committing to more than AUD $4 million (US$2.8 m) to expand the state’s regional flight network, and grant subsidies to operators. This scheme aims to subsidise flight routes to remote towns and areas that are unreachable or cut off from major urban areas. These are ‘life lines’ for rural goers depending on these air services for transport and supplies.
Rita Saffioti, the Western Australian Transport Minister stated that:
“This $4 million investment is another way the McGowan Government is taking the lead on increasing access to air services through reduced airfares in regional WA.
“The proposed expansion of inter-regional air services will provide further opportunities for more jobs in regional WA.
“Having larger aircraft capacity on the air routes will not only allow more passengers to use the services but will stimulate demand by reducing airfares.
“This expanded air service will open up new employment, business and leisure opportunities across the Mid-West, Pilbara and Kimberley regions.”
The government plans include establishing a route operated by Aviair that would connect Karratha to Geraldton beginning of next year’s second quarter. This will enable small and medium business and mining companies in the region to be closer to their respective supply chain and to shave-off travel time between the two urban areas. Without these services, passengers will have to connect via Perth.
Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly (MLA) Lara Dalton stated that: “The expansion of the Inter-Regional Flight Network to include Geraldton will allow more regional residents to be able to travel long distances safely between the Mid-West and northern regions to take up FIFO opportunities as well as improve the connectivity for businesses without the need to transit through Perth.
“This is a great opportunity that will create more jobs within our region and keep businesses and families in the Mid-West.”
Looking at the economic benefits
Apart from its economic benefits, it is important to note that the Western Australian aerial route network is largely a ‘hub and spoke’ model, with Perth Airport being the largest city; by default, it is a hub.
The government’s inter-regional flight network (IRFN) subsidy programme with AUS $4 million will assist the operating cost associated with flying between the two cities.
Aviar hence’s plans to upgrade its fleet to support the IFRN initiative with a 76-aircraft seater from a nine-seater aircraft.
Currently, no decisions have been made on which aircraft types have been chosen, by the two aircraft types that match the requirements are the ATR 72 and the De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Dash 8-400. With larger capacity, the government hopes that this will bring the average price per seat down.
As of today, Aviair’s fleet consists of Beechcraft King Air B200, Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, Pilatus PC12, GippsAero GA8 Airvan, Cessna Citation Mustang aircraft and Bell Jet Ranger, Bell Long Ranger and Robin R-44 helicopters.