Workers high and dry

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Chelle Fisher runs Down Under Discoveries.
Camera IconChelle Fisher runs Down Under Discoveries. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

The cancellation of Regional Express flights has left many fly-in, fly-out workers and their families scrambling to find the best way to get to work.

Before the announcement that Rex would cease flights from Albany on April 6 because of the COVID-19 crisis, many workers used its flights to get to Perth before flying on to a mine site.

Now, they could be forced to travel the 400km between Perth and Albany by road.

The wife of a FIFO husband, Chelle Fisher, said the route suspension would have a big impact on families because it meant more time away from their loved ones.

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Her husband had been working five weeks on and one week off, but that was about to change to two weeks on and one week off, meaning more frequent travelling.

Mrs Fisher owns an eco-tour company and has created a group to help FIFO workers in Albany arrange travel together. She said a support system was needed.

“I'd hate to hear that we lose a Great Southern FIFO worker because they drove home fatigued from work the night before, or a partner fatigued from doing an eight-hour round trip,” she said.

“People think that FIFO families have it easy because they are bringing in the big dollars but in fact we sacrifice so much, and it's not always a choice.

“The flights offered convenience ... which results in more time with families. It is often cheaper than driving if you get a cheaper fare.

“It also meant that families and partners didn't have their work and school time affected as they could just take (a flight) to the airport in Perth.”

Ms Fisher created the Albany Western Australia — FIFO Shuttles Facebook group and has attracted dozens of members.

She said TransWA buses would not match up with FIFO flights, possibly leaving them with accommodation costs in Perth.

She said it would be a bonus if she could use her buses to shuttle workers after the recent hit to her business.

She called on the State Government to intervene and help find a solution.

“I knew there would be plenty of others in the same boat and I need to do what I can to get my husband to and from (Perth) safely and without impacting (on) us too much,” she said.

“My business has been hit hard, in fact we temporarily closed last week due to receiving cancellation after cancellation,” she said.

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