Charter flight musical chairs in Ansett wash up

FOLLOWING the collapse of Ansett it has become cheaper to charter a plane than to pick up a full economy-class seat.

A return flight from Perth to Broome in a nine-seat turbo prop charter aircraft costs between $1,050 and $1,150 a seat. A return economy-class seat on Qantas, the only airline flying from Perth to Broome at the moment, costs $1,216.60 – subject to availability.

Many of WA’s charter operators, such as Skippers, Great Western Aviation, Network Aviation and Pearl Air have been busy “rescuing” stranded travellers.

But charter operators cannot sell single seats on their flights. They can only sell charters.

GWA’s Bob Ballantine said much of the work his company had picked up involved bringing stranded travellers back to Perth.

However, while GWA has picked up extra charter work, it lost the work it had with Ansett.

Network Aviation operations officer Barbara White said the company was now doing quotes all around Australia.

“At the moment we’re moving stranded people as well as miners,” she said.

“We’ve found we can charter cheaper than some of the full fares going around at the moment.

“Most of the charter companies offer the same rates and we all work together. With the extra demand we’ll cross hire each other’s planes.”

Pearl Aviation regional manager west coast Howard Cropley said charter fares depended on the type of aircraft the company was operating.

While Pearl has a fleet of more than 20 aircraft, all but two are tied up with contract work. It operates a nine-seat jet and a turbo prop aircraft out of Perth.

“Obviously it would cost more to charter our nine-seat jet than it would to charter a nine-seat turbo prop plane,” Mr Cropley said.

Pearl picked up some extra work with Woodside but that contract has now ceased, with Skywest resuming services.

Skippers Aviation operations manager Roy Frost said the company picked up many of the Skywest routes through its link with Qantas Airlink.

“Now that Skywest is back, we’re back to where we were,” Mr Frost said.

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