Jetgo plans to add the Embraer E175 to its fleet and operate international flights to Singapore in partnership with the City of Karratha.
The Embraer would be used to fly from Brisbane to Karratha, located on the West Australian north west coast in the in the Pilbara region, and then onwards to Singapore, Jetgo and the City of Karratha announced on Wednesday.
Flights with the 88-seat E175s would start from mid-2018, subject to all the necessary regulatory approvals.
Jetgo managing director for airlines Paul Bredereck said the proposed service to Karratha and Singapore service was a new niche opportunity for the airline.
“We have selected the Embraer E175 due to a combination of size, payload-range, cargo capacity, economics and the ready supply of local expertise due to existing E-170 and E-190 operators in Australia,” Bredereck said in a statement.
“It also builds upon an already strong relationship between Jetgo and Embraer.
“Jetgo is very much looking forward to developing this partnership with the City of Karratha at a time the mining industry is showing strong signs of recovery.”
Currently, Jetgo operates Embraer 37-seat ERJ-135LRs and 44-seat ERJ-140LR regional jets across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
The proposed service would represent the airline’s first foray into Western Australia since it launched regular public transport (RPT) flights in December 2015.
It is also something of a boost for Brazillian manufacturer Embraer in this part of the world, given Virgin Australia was currently in the process of withdrawing the last of its E190s as part of fleet simplification efforts.
The agreement with the City of Karratha would underpin Jetgo moving up from its current fleet of Embraer ERJ regional jets in the 37-to-50 seat market segment to the larger 88-seat Embraer E175,” Bredereck said.
“This is a logical step for our business and builds on five and a half years of jet operations, including domestic airline services along with domestic and international jet charter services.”
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said there would be some modifications to the airport terminal for the installation of international passenger processing facilities.
Further, Cr Long said local residents had expressed a willingness to take advantage of any international services from Karratha, as well as a nonstop option to Australia’s east coast.
“This new service is a fantastic opportunity to market our region to an international and interstate audience with the potential of stimulating economic activity and aiding in the development of the local tourism industry,” Cr Long said.
“We will now move into the next stage of making this service a reality which includes undertaking some terminal modifications required by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and securing the necessary regulatory approvals.”
Currently, Karratha only has nonstop RPT services to Perth. Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed the airport handled 464,000 passengers in 2016/17, down 16.7 per cent from 556,800 passengers in the prior year.
The city of about 20,000 residents is a centre for a number of iron ore and natural gas projects among some of the world’s biggest resources companies.