Skippers Aviation, one of State's major independent airlines, has taken Perth Airport to the competition watchdog over alleged restrictions to its future.
Skippers' chief executive Stan Quinlivan said the airport operator was preventing him importing two new 70-seat Q400 planes valued at $24 million to service booming resource industry demand through restrictive lease provisions.
"Perth Airport is singling out independent local operators by putting restrictive covenants on the maximum arrival and departure numbers and the ability to upgrade the fleet," Mr Quinlivan said.
Skippers' new lease extension from 2021 to 2030 cuts the number of passengers it can handle to just 200 an hour - down from 600 - and effectively freezes the plane size to existing types no bigger than 50 seats.
But in adjacent facilities to Skippers, Cobham and Network Aviation are importing 100-seat jets.
Though the current lease doesn't run out until 2021, the investment required in new planes and support facilities requires long-term security of unrestricted growth.
A Perth Airport spokeswoman said that discussions with Skippers were "commercial in-confidence" and it would not comment further.
Mr Quinlivan said that putting the squeeze on smaller operators would affect regional and rural communities.
"We service 11 of the 13 regulated passenger routes north of Perth," he said. "These are the less glamorous but critical routes that look after remote communities and tourist destinations."
Mr Quinlivan said that Perth Airport had not offered any alternatives to the airline.
Skippers had invested more than $6 million building its own terminal and state-of-the-art maintenance facilities and there was plenty of space for expansion, Mr Quinlivan said.
What is perplexing Mr Quinlivan is that bigger planes would take pressure off Perth Airport's congested runway.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating Mr Quinlivan's complaint.
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