Highs, lows of air drama

Gavin Box

Passengers stranded at Geraldton Airport due to last week’s heavy fog at Perth might have caught a jet to Perth later that day — had the drama unfolded just one month later.

Geraldton Airport will unveil security screening facilities on June 3, which means the airport will be able to board passengers for jet services.

But that was cold comfort for any of those grounded at Geraldton last week, who could only look on as a Skywest jet departed for the State’s capital.

A source has told the Guardian that the jet, carrying mine workers from Paraburdoo, disembarked passengers at Geraldton but could not take any new passengers to Perth because there were no screening facilities.

Jet services require screening of passengers, hand luggage and checked luggage.

It wasn’t all bad news, however.

Airport authorities were praised for the “brilliant” way they accommodated jet passengers while meeting security standards.

Three jets — two carrying passengers and a freighter — were diverted to Geraldton because of the fog-in.

Authorities could not disembark the passengers into the main airport precinct because they did not have the screening facilities required to re-board them.

But rather than have the passengers stuck on the tarmac, they decided to secure a separate lounge with secure access to toilets.

“It was brilliant,” our source said.

“It was a simple fix — and because the passengers remained ‘sterile’ so to speak, they could be reboarded for the trip back to Perth.”

SKYWEST has announced the expansion into Geraldton to Bali flights, scheduled to begin June 25.

The announcement was made on Monday in conjunction with the City of Geraldton- Greenough.

Soon Geraldton residents will be able to travel to Bali, via Port Hedland, at a special five-day launch fare of $399 for a return flight available between June 23 to 27.

Return flights outside this period will cost $599.

Direct flights from Geraldton to Kalgoorlie are still in the works, with a confirmation expected once government approvals had been received.

GAVIN BOX