Fokkers at home in hostile territory

Photo of Geoffrey Thomas

Fly-in, fly-out workers, tourists and resource executives have now replaced the missionaries, cattlemen and prospectors of the post-war years as passengers on WA’s internal air routes...

... And replaced them in their millions as the extraordinary resources boom has opened up the State in ways never imagined even by such visionaries as former premier, the late Sir Charles Court.

But with that boom has come bust for dozens of airlines with the resultant chaos for loyal and dedicated staff as airlines became pawns in corporate plays that had little to do with the interests of the airline and the State but more to do with power-plays and egos.

Throw into the mix, deregulation in the 1990s, and there was a brew of which the three witches from Macbeth would be proud.

Fifty-two airlines have disappeared since 1960, the most notable the airline that Sir Norman Brearley helped create — Ansett in 2001.

Another, Skywest Airlines has flown in and out of turbulence several times but today flies on as Virgin Australian Regional Airlines.

But from the devastation of airline collapses has risen a new order of airlines that has given passengers more choice, more certainty and lower fares.

Qantas, which had been a bit player in Western Australia up until the 1990s worked with National Jet Systems to develop a regional presence under the Airlink brand — later Qantaslink — in 1994 with services on key trunk routes to Broome, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, and Port Hedland.

In 2011 Qantas purchased Network Aviation and dramatically grew the airline to tap the FIFO market and regional scheduled services under the Qantaslink brand.

The passenger has been the winner with airfares tumbling.

Read the full story here.

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