Skywest, Virgin expand Albany travel options

JOSH NYMANAlbany Advertiser

Corporate domestic and international air passengers now have a new integrated travel solution to consider after the alliance of Skywest Airlines and Virgin Australia was officially approved last week.

On Thursday the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission approved the expanded alliance between the airlines, which claim they now offer corporate customers improved access to charter flights, more competitive pricing and enhanced flight connections.

Virgin’s $8 million investment into Skywest was first announced last month amid speculation the domestic and international carrier wanted to claim a bigger stake in the mining sector.

Last week Virgin Australia’s executive of alliances, Merren McArthur, said the move would enhance the airline’s ability to meet increased demand from the resources and mining industries.

“This will provide a range of benefits for resources and mining companies,” she said. “Virgin Australia is committed to increasing competition in the Australian corporate travel market and the expansion of our alliance with Skywest is an important part of this strategy.”

However, the alliance will have no direct foreseeable impact on flight frequency, price or destinations for regular travellers from Albany, according to Skywest commercial executive general manager Alan Stuart.

“Our focus is on offering a joint solution to primarily the corporate clients from the resource area when they are flying interstate or within WA,” he said.

“If a client wanted to expand their service to incorporate Virgin as a carrier then we can now do that, but there won’t be any Virgin aircraft landing at Albany.”

Skywest has been servicing 21 Albany-based Rio Tinto recruits working at the Brockman 4 site near Tom Price since March 27.

It is the only mining-related fly-in, fly-out service in the Great Southern.

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