11/02/2003 - 21:00

WA tourism may win from points deal

11/02/2003 - 21:00

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WA tourism may win from points deal

 Skywest destinations should benefit from greater exposure, both Australiawide and internationally, through the local airline’s new affiliation with Qantas, Skywest Airlines chief executive officer Scott Henderson says. While neither company is keen to divulge much of the carriers’ commercial agreement, part of the deal is for Qantas to market Skywest’s destinations, which extend from Karratha to Esperance.

The affiliation, enables Qantas Frequent Flyer points to be used for Skywest flights, and for through checkin of passengers and baggage across the networks. Skywest, which flies to Albany, Carnarvon, Esperance, Exmouth, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Monkey Mia, Laverton, Leonora and Leinster, is accordingly reviewing schedules to enable optimum connections. Skywest is hoping eastern coast business customers may now find greater incentive to come West for holidays. Mr Henderson says the Qantas and Skywest deal came out of talks following comments by Qantas chief executive officer Geoff Dixon at an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch last October. Skywest also held discussions with Virgin Blue, but ultimately favoured what Qantas, which has nine other regional affiliates throughout Australia, could offer.

Qantas regional manager WA Ian Gay says most of these affiliations were formed in the past year. Qantas and Skywest both fly to Kalgoorlie and Karratha, while Qantas and affiliate Airnorth both fly to Broome. Mr Henderson says Skywest’s affiliation with Qantas, which starts April 15, will not affect Skywest’s planned network expansion in the north west. Qantas frequent flyer points can also be earned on Skywest flights from April. The WA Government and Virgin Blue are hosting a WA tour of 60 interstate travel agents this week. This tour takes in Perth, Bunbury, Busselton, Mandurah and Margaret River.

Western Australian Tourism Commission executive director for industry development Paolo Amaranti said the WATC was supportive of any alliance between airlines that resulted in an increase in travel to WA and greater convenience for the travelling public. "We can see that the recently announced alliance between Skywest and Qantas … could deliver benefits … and this is good news for regional tourism," Mr Paolo said. The WATC would continue to work closely with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure on this issue, he said.

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