Skywest is teaming up with Virgin Blue to increase regional services in the Eastern States — with flow-on benefits right here in Geraldton.
The joint venture will see Skywest take on 18 new Virgin Blue aircraft.
The partnership means customers will be able to earn and redeem Velocity reward points between both networks.
Skywest executive chairman Jeff Chatfield said the venture would have a flow-on effect for Geraldton residents.
“Taking on the new fleet will enable Skywest to update its existing fleet,” he said.
“The new aircraft will be quicker and modern, reducing flying time.
“It will enable us to offer cheaper fares to more places around the world.”
Mr Chatfield said the partnership would allow Skywest to expand its services.
“The combined strength of our networks, along with the additional capacity we will deliver with new aircraft, will provide travellers with more frequent flights, better schedules and competitive fares,” he said.
“It is essentially doubling the size of the airline by adding 18 new aircraft to the existing 18 Skywest planes.
“The leasing arrangement means that Skywest will not be exposed to the capital investment of owning the aircraft and will be a service provider and code-share partner.”
Mr Chatfield said Geraldton residents would soon be reaping the benefits of the partnership.
“Geraldton will see benefits reasonably quickly,” he said.
“The middle of the year is when we should see new aircraft and increases in the number of flights offered.
Virgin Blue Group of Airlines managing director John Borghetti said the new aircraft should be operating by the end of the year.
“The first aircraft will arrive mid 2011, with four Virgin Blue branded aircraft in operation by the end of the year,” he said.
“These modern aircraft will have excellent fuel efficiencies, allowing us to keep airfares low for our customers.”