Cobham Aviation Services Australia has finalised a contract worth more than $50 million to extend its existing services to the Cooper Basin oil and gas fields for energy company Santos for another six years.
The aviation group will base a 99-seat Avro RJ100 in Adelaide for eight weekly return services to Moomba and Ballera.
The contract will take the relationship with Santos to 2018 for a total of 28 years since Cobham’s predecessor, National Jet Systems, began its fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) work for the energy company in 1990.
Peter Nottage, the chief executive of the Adelaide-based subsidiary of Britain’s aerospace and defence group Cobham Plc, said the contract represented a significant extension of one of the company’s foundation routes.
The RJ100, being acquired from the UK and due into service in the final quarter of the year, would provide an enhanced service for Moomba and Ballera, he said.
The latest acquisition will bring to five the number of RJ100s used by Cobham in Australia, with the others based in Perth for FIFO services for resources companies operating in remote areas in Western Australia.
The company claims to be Australia’s premier FIFO operator, with 20 Bombardier Dash 8, BAe 146 and RJ100 aircraft carrying about 130,000 passengers on about 7,500 flights annually.
Apart from Santos, its clients include BHP Billiton, Chevron, Rio Tinto and Minara Resources, as well as Ok Tedi in Papua New Guinea.
Cobham’s Australian arm also operates overnight air freight services for Australian air Express and last October won a new $500 million contract to expand its Boeing 717 services for Qantas regional airline QantasLink.
The regional deal took the 717 fleet from 11 to 13 aircraft and extended the contract until 2018.
Its other work includes the Coastwatch flights around Australia’s northern coast for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, using 10 Dash 8 maritime patrol aircraft under a $1 billion, 12-year contract which runs to 2020.
– Chris Milne