Air services in Western Australia

Aviation

  Air Services overview and maps

Aviation in WA is essential to the economy and social and health needs of regional communities. Sustainable, affordable, safe and reliable air services. Air services are often the most efficient mode of transport for WA’s dispersed communities and are also critical for mining and business operations across the State as well as bringing visitors to the regions, growing tourism markets.

The State Government considers various levels of regulation on air routes while taking into account the unique circumstances of each route, particularly the needs of community and industry.  In fulfilling its role as a regulator, the State scales its response between the following regulatory options for Regular Public Transport (RPT) routes:

  • Fully regulated routes are those routes where demand for RPT air services is marginal and there is a significant risk in communities not having access to an adequate level of RPT services. Fully regulated routes are established by awarding exclusive monopoly rights to one airline through a competitive tender process.
     
  • Lightly regulated routes are those routes that receive an adequate level of RPT air services in a monopoly or duopoly airline market, but where there is community concern about the affordability and reliability of air services.  These routes are lightly regulated by conditions placed on the aircraft licences, such as community engagement and provision of data.

  Aircraft licensing

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. Any condition placed on an aircraft licence may refer to the provision of Regular Public Transport (RPT) services, charter services, or both where applicable. 

The aircraft licences may be issued for up to 12 months 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.

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 2020.

Under the Transport Coordination Act 1966 (section 43A), a licence for an aircraft may be granted for a period of not more than 5 years or for a particular purpose of specified duration.

An aircraft is exempt from Part III of the Act if -

(a) it is being operated to carry people or goods on a flight that starts and finishes at the same airport and does not land at any other airport; or
(b) 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
(c) it is being operated solely for any of these purposes -

(i) aerial mustering;
(ii) aerial spraying;
(iii) crop dusting;
(iv) spreading fertiliser or seed;
(v) spreading baits to control animals;
(vi) aerial photography or surveying;
(vii) spotting whales or fish;
(viii) providing medical services;

or

(d) it is an unmanned aircraft; or
(e) it is being operated on a flight to or from an airport not listed. Refer to Transport Co-ordination Act (Part III Exemptions) Order 2020 (below) for the list of airports.

View the Transport Coordination Act (Part III Exemptions) Order 2020 (below) for more information.

How to apply for a WA Aircraft Licence?

Aircraft licence applications can be made by completing the application form downloadable below and returning it to the Department of Transport (DoT). Aircraft licences are issued by DoT free of charge.

For more information on aircraft licences, airlines can contact Air Services via the contact details below.

Service Type Suburb Business Name Phone number Phone number (secondary) Fax Pre-booking required Business Hours Email Street address Postal address Business Type Vehicle type Comments
Aviation contact Air Services (Aviation) (08) 6551 6197 (08) 6551 6001 No Monday to Friday 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. (excludes public holidays) aviation@transport.wa.gov.au P.O. Box C102, Perth WA 6839 Department of Transport Air Services in Western Australia, including regulation of RPT air services, closed charter operations, and aircraft licences
Aviation contact Aviation Infrastructure (Aviation) (08) 6551 6196 (08) 6551 6001 No Monday to Friday 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. (excludes public holidays) rads@transport.wa.gov.au P.O. Box C102, Perth WA 6839 Department of Transport Aviation Infrastructure in Western Australia, including the Regional Airports Development Scheme (RADS)

Engaging regional WA

The Department of Transport (DoT) facilitates various regular consultation activities to be better informed and engaged with stakeholders and communities related to Regular Public Transport (RPT) air services for regional Western Australia.

Consultation on fully regulated air routes

The fully regulated RPT air routes to Albany, Esperance, Carnarvon, Monkey Mia, Laverton, Leonora, Mount Magnet, Meekatharra and Wiluna are operated under Deeds of Agreement between the airline and the State Government.  Under the Deeds DoT chairs two Aviation Community Consultation Group (CCG) meetings per year for each route. During the CCGs key stakeholders meet with DoT and the operating airline to discuss airline and route performance, initiatives and partnership opportunities. 

In addition, DoT chairs Stakeholder Meetings for the Derby – Broome air service and the Inter Regional Flight Network (IRFN) between Broome, Port Hedland, Karratha and Geraldton.

These discussions are vital in ensuring the air route’s long-term viability and to foster potential route growth. DoT engages with the airlines regularly in relation to any issues that may occur on the air routes.

Consultation on lightly regulated air routes

Airlines operating RPT services on lightly regulated routes in WA have a condition on their aircraft licence, requiring them to regularly engage with the regional communities they service, as well as providing data to the State Government.

DoT facilitates Regional Aviation Consultation Group (RACG) meetings in 10 regional towns associated with the lightly regulated routes including, Broome, Exmouth, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Kununurra, Newman, Onslow, Paraburdoo/Tom Price and Port Hedland.

The RACG meetings are held annually to provide a forum for ongoing and direct collaboration between the State, airlines, local governments, private airport operators, tourism bodies, the resources sector, and other key stakeholders. The RACG meetings aim to identify opportunities for improving access to affordable airfares, air service recovery and route development opportunities.

  Intrastate air services

The State Government encourages and supports the development of direct air services between regional WA towns, Perth, other Australian capital cities and international destinations, particularly where there are opportunities to stimulate inbound interstate and international tourism.  

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;
  • enable the availably of affordable airfares on regional air routes in WA;
  • enable adequate frequency of air services;
  • improve the liveability of regional towns;
  • foster economic, social and tourism development throughout WA; and
  • support the wider State economy, particularly the resources and tourism sectors. 

  Fully regulated RPT air routes

Air routes in WA which have insufficient passenger demand to support airline competition are regulated by the State Government. Through competitive tender the successful airline is granted monopoly rights to operate on a particular Regular Public Transport (RPT) route. Currently, the following RPT air routes in WA are fully regulated.  

Fully regulated air routes Airline
Albany - Perth and vice versa Rex
Broome - Fitzroy Crossing - Halls Creek (or in similar configuration) and vice versa - subsidised by the State Government Skippers Aviation  
Broome - Port Hedland - Karratha - Geraldton (or in similar configuration) and vice versa (IRFN) - subsidised by the State Government  Nexus Airlines
Derby - Broome and vice versa - subsidised by the State Government  Aviair
Esperance - Perth and vice versa Rex
Kununurra - Halls Creek - Balgo (or in similar configuration) and vice versa Aviair
Perth - Laverton – Leonora (or in similar configuration) and vice versa Skippers Aviation
Perth - Monkey Mia - Carnarvon (or in similar configuration) and vice versa Rex 
Perth - Wiluna - Meekatharra - Mt Magnet (or in similar configuration) and vice versa Skippers Aviation

 

  • Aviair operates the Kununurra - Halls Creek - Balgo subsidised air services until 30 June 2026. Aviair also operates a subsidised services on the Derby - Broome route under a Deed of Agreement until 30 June 2024.
  • Rex operates the Albany, Esperance, and Carnarvon - Monkey Mia air routes under Deeds of Agreement with the State Government until 2 July 2028.
  • Skippers Aviation operates on the Wiluna - Meekatharra - Mount Magnet and Laverton - Leonora air routes under a Deed of Agreement with the State Government until 2 July 2028. The routes are collectively known as the Northern Goldfields routes. 

Under the agreements, the airlines are required to report monthly statistics such as passenger numbers, load factors, airfares, On Time Performance (OTP) and service cancellations. DoT regularly monitors performance on these routes.

  Lightly regulated RPT air routes

Under aircraft conditions, airlines operating Regular Public Transport (RPT) air services on the lightly regulated routes are required to: 

  • report route data to DoT; and
  • engage with regional stakeholders and communities on a route-by-route basis.

DoT actively monitors the performance on the lightly regulated routes. Entry into the market by other airlines on the lightly regulated routes is not restricted.

The following RPT routes are lightly regulated by the State Government:

Lightly regulated air routes Airline
Broome - Kununurra and vice versa  Airnorth and Nexus Airlines
Kununurra - Kalumburu and vice versa  Aviair
Perth - Broome and vice versa  Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia
Perth - Exmouth (Learmonth) and vice versa Qantas Airways
Perth - Geraldton and vice versa Nexus Airlines and Qantas Airways
Perth - Kalgoorlie and vice versa Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia and Alliance
Perth - Karratha and vice versa Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia
Perth - Kununurra and vice versa Virgin Australia and Airnorth
Perth - Newman and vice versa Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia
Perth - Onslow and vice versa Virgin Australia
Perth - Paraburdoo and vice versa Qantas Airways
Perth - Port Hedland and vice versa Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia

  Closed charter air services

The State Government's long-standing objective has been to ensure the viability of Regular Public Transport (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. Travel on closed charter air services is not available to the general public. An example would be the transport of FIFO staff for a resource company who has contracted a charter operator for their sole use.

To balance the needs of the resource industry and regional communities, the objectives of the Charter Policy are to:

  • ensure charters do not detract from the viability of RPT services on marginal RPT air routes;
  • reduce the impact of charters on existing RPT air services, in terms of airfare affordability and service frequency; and
  • adopt a transparent approach to charters on a route-by-route basis.

For more details on charter air operations in WA please refer to the Charter Policy below  

To apply for a closed charter service on RPT routes complete the application form below and submit it to DoT via email: aviation@transport.wa.gov.au 

Charter operators should note that:

  • Assessment of charter applications may take 4-6 weeks.
  • Charter services should not commence before the application has been assessed and approval received by way of an amended WA aircraft licence.
  • Special conditions may be placed on the licence of charter operators in line with the Charter Policy.
  • An application for a closed charter service operating on an RPT air route may be given a temporary approval (e.g. 3 months) while further assessment is undertaken to determine any potential impact on the RPT air service. 
Chartering of aircraft on regional regular public transport air routes circular

  Review of regulated air routes in WA 2013-15

The existing 2015 State Aviation Strategy outlines the State’s framework for policy setting and future planning and investment in Western Australian international and domestic air services and airport infrastructure. A copy of the report can be downloaded below.

Unmanned aircraft (drones)

If you have any enquiries about drones please contact CASA or visit their website below regarding Part 101 CASR - Unmanned aircraft and rockets.

CASA: Part 101 of CASR Unmanned aircraft and rockets

  Air routes in WA: Media

05/02/2024: Ongoing aviation services secured for Aboriginal communities
07/12/2023: 200,000 reasons to celebrate Regional Airfare Zone Cap scheme
15/08/2023: Airlines appointed to service fully regulated regional air routes
15/08/2023: Capped airfares prove popular in first year of landmark scheme
03/08/2023: Air service extension provides certainty to Kimberley community
10/07/2023: Western Australia’s newest airline takes to the skies
17/05/2023: Air travel in regional WA to take off with launch of new airline
04/05/2023: Major boost for regional residents with more affordable airfares
11/04/2023: Air service levels in Albany and Esperance receive boost
23/01/2023: Additional flights provide crucial Kimberley transport link
28/07/2022: Derby to Broome air service trial extended for an additional year
13/05/2022: McGowan Government to deliver new direct flight between Geraldton and Karratha
28/02/2022: Additional flight added for Derby to Broome air service
16/08/2021: First flight between Derby and Broome takes to the skies
24/06/2021: Wheels up on Derby to Broome flights from August
18/05/2021: New flight option for travel between Perth and Kalgoorlie
12/05/2021: Flight frequency back to pre-COVID levels on some regional routes
31/03/2021: McGowan Government welcomes more flight options for Pilbara residents
10/02/2021: Rex to continue operating Albany and Esperance air routes until mid-2023
10/12/2020: McGowan Government welcomes new Virgin fares for regional residents
05/10/2020: Historic regional flights deal lands 50,000 tickets for WA’s north
19/08/2020: Regional aviation continues on the flight path to recovery
21/07/2020: Cheaper airfares a big boost to Kimberley tourism in WA’s recovery
10/02/2020: New funding boost for WA tourism and regional aviation
20/08/2019: McGowan Government welcomes capped airfares for Kalgoorlie and Karratha residents
16/08/2019: Inter-regional flights take off from today, improving connectivity in the north
05/08/2019: Affordable community airfares encouraging more people to the regions
29/07/2019: Regional workshops provide innovative ideas for lower airfares
28/06/2019: Tender for Derby air service trial finalised
11/03/2019: Response to regional airfares inquiry continues to progress
11/12/2018: Community fares land on the Northern Goldfields routes
18/11/2018: Upgraded resort creates new tourism opportunities for Monkey Mia
22/08/2018: Direct Perth to Derby flights closer to reinstatement
25/06/2018: Carnarvon and Monkey Mia to benefit from community airfares
19/06/2018: New regional flights to further connect the Kimberley
10/04/2018: Regional airfare inquiry recommendations supported
27/02/2018: New airline agreements for Carnarvon, Monkey Mia and Northern Goldfields
Page last updated: Fri Mar 1 2024 3:54:16 PM