Air services in Western Australia
Air services overview
Western Australia is the largest state in Australia. The aviation industry in Western Australia is a significant driver of the economic and social development of the State. Aviation provides transport for both communities and businesses.
Aviation plays a key role in connecting remote and rural areas in WA with Perth, as well as catering for local communities, the resource and corporate sectors, and the tourism and leisure markets. With a total area of over 2.5 million square kilometres and a population of approximately 2.5 million people Western Australia relies heavily on air services. The State's vastness, isolated country towns, limited nearby alternative air services and considerable volume of mining operations make WA unique.
Whether for leisure, business or medical purposes, for many WA regional communities air travel is often the preferred alternative to driving vast distances, which may take several days. Furthermore, as a State of significant natural resources and mining activities WA depends on air services in order to meet the needs of the resource sector for its fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workforce. From a tourism perspective, interstate and international flights also foster tourism growth in WA by transporting visitors to various regional hubs in the State.
Government objectives for air services
In view of the objectives of the Western Australian State Aviation Strategy, the State Government has developed a policy to support the social and economic resilience of communities through safe, affordable, efficient and effective aviation services.
The State Government's policy objectives for intrastate regular public transport (RPT) air routes in WA are to:
- Ensure an adequate level of RPT air services on regional routes in WA;
- Foster competition on RPT routes, potentially leading to reduced airfares, more frequent services and greater choice for consumers;
- Ensure charter air services do not detract from the viability of RPT air services;
- Minimise costs on the resources sector and charter operators in WA;
- Reduce administrative 'red tape'; and
- Minimise direct costs to the State.
Governance of intrastate air routes
The Minister for Transport has powers under the Transport Coordination Act 1966 to license aircraft and place conditions on aircraft licenses to control where and when airlines may fly within the State.
Under the Western Australian Transport Coordination Act 1966 and the Transport Coordination Regulations 1985 the Minister for Transport has the authority to issue aircraft licences for up to 12 months, free of charge, to airlines operating within the State for commercial purposes (hire or reward), other than for medical emergency purposes.
The purpose of the Act and Regulations is to ensure that Western Australians are provided, as far as is practicable, with reliable, efficient and economic transport services. Under this legislation the Minister is empowered to regulate intrastate air routes by placing various conditions on aircraft licences.
These can include conditions that restrict the area or frequency of airline operations or any other conditions considered in the public interest. Any condition placed on an aircraft licence may refer to the provision of RPT services, charter services, or both where applicable.
Regulated RPT air routes
Air routes in WA which have insufficient passenger demand to support airline competition are regulated by the State Government by granting monopoly rights to a single airline to operate on a particular RPT route. Currently, air routes to and from the following regional airports in WA that receive RPT air services are regulated.
|Airline||Regulated air route|
|Regional Express (Rex)||Perth - Albany|
|Regional Express (Rex)||Perth - Esperance|
|Skippers Aviation||Perth - Leonora - Laverton|
|Skippers Aviation||Perth - Meekatharra - Mt Magnet - Wiluna|
|Skippers Aviation||Perth - Monkey Mia - Carnarvon|
|QantasLink||Perth - Learmonth (Exmouth)*|
|Aviair||Kununurra - Halls Creek|
* Reduced regulation through route monitoring but allowing airline competition at any time
- Aviair operates subsidised air services on a trial basis only until 30 June 2018.
- Qantaslink operates under a licence arrangement only.
- Regional Express (Rex) operates under deed of agreement until 27 February 2021.
- Skippers Aviation operates under a deed of agreement until 1 July 2018.
DoT regularly monitors performance on these routes.
|Regulated RPT Air Routes in Western Australia (map)||Kb|
Aircraft licensing requirements
All aircraft owners operating commercial passenger services within Western Australia are required to hold a WA Aircraft Licence unless exempted under the Transport Coordination (Part III Exemptions) Order 2016 gazetted by the State Government on 15 July 2016 (see below).
The exemption order reduces the regulatory burden on aircraft operators for aircraft licensing in WA. Effective from the date of Government Gazettal an aircraft is exempted from licensing under the Transport Coordination Act 1966 if-
- It is being operated to carry people or good on a flight that starts and finishes at the same airport and does not land at any other airport; or
- It is a helicopter being operated to carry people to or from their workplace and the people themselves do not pay for the flight; or
- It is being operated solely for any of these purposes-
- Aerial mustering;
- Aerial spraying;
- Crop dusting;
- Spreading fertiliser or seed;
- Spreading baits to control animals
- Aerial photography or surveying;
- Spotting whales or fish;
- Providing medical services
- It is being operated on a flight to or from an airport not listed in the table below.
|Airport name||Airport name|
|Albany Airport||Kununurra Airport|
|Broome International Airport||Laverton Airport|
|Busselton Regional Airport||Learmonth Airport/RAAF Learmonth|
|Carnarvon Airport||Leonora Airport|
|Curtin Airport/RAAF Curtin||Meekatharra Airport|
|Derby Airport||Mount Magnet Airport|
|Esperance Airport||Newman Airport|
|Fitzroy Crossing Airport||Onslow Airport|
|Geraldton Airport||Paraburdoo Airport|
|Halls Creek Airport||Port Hedland International Airport|
|Kalbarri Airport||Ravensthorpe Airport|
|Kalgoorlie- Boulder Airport||Shark Bay Airport|
|Kambalda Airport||Wiluna Airport|
Aircraft licence applications can be made by completing the application form downloadable below and returning it to DoT via firstname.lastname@example.org
Under the Transport Coordination Act 1966, aircraft licences for regulated air routes have generally been issued for a period of one year. However, going forward in 2017 and beyond, as per the Licensing Provisions Amendment Act 2016 Commencement Proclamation 2017 that was gazetted by the State Government on 7 February 2017, aircraft licences may be issued at the discretion of the Department for up to 5 years.
The legislative changes that now allow a longer, up to 5 years, licensing term aim to:
- Provide greater economic certainty to airlines, and
- Reduce the administrative burden of executing deeds on both industry and the government.
For more information on aircraft licences, airlines can contact the Department on (08) 6551 6197 or email email@example.com
|Application for an Aircraft Licence||Kb|
|Government Gazette No. 126 of 2016 (2877)|
Closed charter air services
The State Government's long-standing objective has been to ensure that charter air services do not detract from the viability of RPT air services in WA as a matter of public interest.
The State Government's position is to ensure the viability of RPT services for regional communities, while also seeking to meet the needs of the resources companies and minimise any cost on the resources and charter industries. In the context of seeking to balance both the needs of the resource industry and the needs of the community, the objectives of the DoT's charter policy are to:
- Maintain an adequate level of air services to regional communities;
- Foster economic development for the resources sector in WA;
- Minimise costs for the resources and charter industries; and
- Adopt a consistent and transparent State Government policy in the interest of fair charter assessment and management.
For more details on charter air operations in WA please refer to the Charter Policy outlined in Part 7 of the Review of Regulated Air Routes in WA Final Report 2015. This can be downloaded from the Review of Regulated Air Routes in WA 2013-15: Reports section below.
Charter service providers can apply for the operation of closed charter air services on RPT routes by completing the application form downloadable below and submitting to DoT via firstname.lastname@example.org
|Charter Air Services application form||Kb|
Review of Regulated Air Routes in WA 2013-15
Following extensive consultation, in July 2015 the Department of Transport completed the review of regulated regular public transport (RPT) air routes in WA (the Review) which commenced in July 2013.
In July 2015, the State Government endorsed the Review's final report prepared by the Department which outlined the regulatory approach to eight regional air routes in WA beyond 27 February 2016 when existing regulatory arrangements between the State Government and airlines were going to cease.
The final report took into consideration relevant statistics for each route, the economic conditions specific to each region and the 43 submissions received in response to the position paper, which was released for public comment on 31 July 2014 and closed on 31 October 2014.
The final report also provided details on the State Government's regulatory policy approach to closed charter air services (charter policy).
Through the endorsement of the final report the State Government determined the following regulatory approach for each of the reviewed RPT routes beyond 27 February 2016:
- Continued regulation for five years on the Perth - Albany, Perth - Esperance, Perth - Monkey Mia - Carnarvon and Perth - Derby routes.
- Continued regulation for five years on the Northern Goldfields routes (between Perth and Laverton, Leonora, Meekatharra, Mt Magnet, and Wiluna) with the possibility of establishing new route configurations. Leinster will no longer operate as an RPT airport.
- Reduced regulation for the Perth - Exmouth (Learmonth) route allowing other airlines to enter the market.
A competitive tender process was undertaken for all air routes to be regulated beyond February 2016.
Two requests for proposal (DOT401015 and DOT401115) were advertised on 29 July 2015 on Tenders WA for air services between Perth and a number of regional towns.
The Perth - Exmouth (Learmonth) route was to be opened up to competition beyond 27 February 2016 and was not subject to a tender process.
On 13 November 2015, the State Government announced Regional Express (Rex) as the preferred airline for the Perth - Albany and Perth - Esperance air routes. As announced on 9 December 2015, the State Government signed a deed of agreement with Rex to provide RPT air services on the Albany and Esperance routes for the next five years, commencing on 28 February 2016. Flight schedules and ticket bookings to Albany and Esperance are available on the Rex website.
On 18 November 2015, the State Government announced that Skippers Aviation will continue to service the Perth - Carnarvon - Monkey Mia and Perth - Northern Goldfields air routes (which include the towns of Laverton, Leonora, Meekatharra, Mount Magnet and Wiluna) under a deed of agreement until 27 June 2018. (The deed of agreement was later extended until 1 July 2008.) Flight schedules and ticket bookings to Perth - Carnarvon - Monkey Mia and Perth - Northern Goldfields air routes are available on the Skippers website.
The Department of Transport has been exploring options with the aviation industry for the provision of RPT air services on the Perth - Derby route. At this stage no airline is in a position to operate the service commercially but in the meantime, travellers to and from Derby can access RPT air services via Broome.
For more information on the Review, download:
- The Review's final report and position paper.
- The media statements released by the Minister for Transport (dated 13/11/2015, 18/11/2015 and 09/12/2015).
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
- Snapshots of air routes.
|Regional Express (Rex)|
|Skippers Aviation services|
Review of Regulated Air Routes in WA 2013-15: Reports
|Review of Regulated Regular Public Transport Air Routes in WA: Final report (2015)||Kb|
|Review of Regulated Regular Public Transport Air Routes in WA (Position paper)||Kb|