04/03/2009 - 22:00

New contracts, brand for airline

04/03/2009 - 22:00

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Air services provider National Jet is embarking on a complete rebranding and name change amid the renegotiation of $90 million in aviation contracts with Western Australian mining companies.

New contracts, brand for airline

Air services provider National Jet is embarking on a complete rebranding and name change amid the renegotiation of $90 million in aviation contracts with Western Australian mining companies.

Last week, the Adelaide-based operator announced it had signed a $50 million contract extension with HWE Mining to provide air services to Yandi and Mining Area C in the Pilbara.

It also signed a $40 million contract extension to fly personnel to the Murrin Murrin nickel and cobalt mine.

Both contracts have been adjusted in light of the downturn in the resources sector.

HWE will have fewer flights but use a bigger plane, a BAe 146-300 series, while workers at the Murrin Murrin mine will be transported in a smaller, more cost-effective BAe146-200 aircraft.

Chief executive of parent company Cobham Aviation Services, Peter Nottage, said the business was prepared to work with its resources clients to meet their needs in the current climate.

"Flexibility is the key," Mr Nottage told WA Business News.

"Our approach is to listen to customers and understand that, for the ones with which we have existing contracts, the world has changed in the past six months."

The contracts follow the cancellation of National Jet services to BHP Billiton's mothballed Ravensthorpe nickel mine, with the carrier having operated between 10 and 15 services a week to the mining town.

National Jet is also in the midst of a rebranding being rolled out across all of Cobham's subsidiaries.

All subsidiaries, including National Jet, will be renamed Cobham, with the new aircraft livery, staff uniforms and all branding to be revised over the next three weeks.

"We do have different sectors and clients we serve, and it's important that they feel like they're part of a larger group," Mr Nottage said.

"So it's cultural and internal, but has also simplified the way we represent ourselves externally to the marketplace."

National Jet operates between 40 and 50 services a week throughout WA, predominantly in the mining regions. It also operates the QantasLink service.

Meanwhile, competitor Skywest last week announced that it would commence flights from Geraldton and Carnarvon to Karratha from April.

In its half-yearly report, Skywest recorded a 31 per cent increase in revenue for the six months to December 2008 to $97 million, while declaring a $2.7 million loss, mainly a result of unrealised foreign exchanges losses and one-off costs.

Regular passenger transport numbers fell by 2 per cent over the previous corresponding period, while charter services grew by 94 per cent.

The company has embarked on a number of cost saving initiatives with the aim of stripping at least $10 million a year from its operating cost base.

These include significant reductions in supply costs from major suppliers, staff savings due to greater efficiency in human resources management, pay freezes for senior management, and reductions in capacity on some routes.

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