The Kimberley tourism industry has seen its biggest reshuffle in years, with local developers Michael and Kate McConachy moving this week to consolidate the region's two helicopter charter businesses.
The couple, owners of Freshwater East Kimberley apartments in Kununurra, are closing on deals that will see them run a fleet of 17 Kimberley-based choppers. They closed a deal last week to buy Heliwork WA and are finalising negotiations over the purchase of the helicopter charter division of Lone Eagle Aviation.
About 70 per cent of Heliwork's business comes from tourism charters and helicopter air safaris, with the company holding bases at the Purnululu and Mitchell River national parks, Warmun, El Questro, the Katherine Gorge and Lake Argyle.
The rest largely comes from corporate and State Government work, including medi-vac flights, search and rescue operations and surveys. But Mr McConachy said the couple had big plans to expand and lift the fleet's work in the wet seasons by setting up a similar tourism charter business in the State's south. He would not reveal the price paid for Heliwork but sources suggest it was between $5 million and $10 million.