The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued draft approval of a codesharing alliance between Virgin Australia and Skywest aimed at tapping into lucrative mining routes in Western Australia.
The ACCC said the alliance would benefit consumers by fostering competition between Virgin-Skywest and Qantas and its affiliates. The deal “will result in public benefits such as enhanced products and services for corporate customers…and potentially lower prices due to closer competition,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
Mining based fly-in/fly-out services have emerged as a booming source of growth in regional aviation in recent years and the alliance will give Virgin an important entrance into that market by allowing it to leverage Skywest’s existing network of regional FIFO charters and scheduled services. At the same time, the deal will give Skywest passengers access to Virgin’s interstate and international networks.
Skywest already operates regional turboprop flights on behalf of Virgin in Queensland and NSW as part of a separate arrangement.
The ACCC issued interim approval to the codesharing alliance in January.