Comment sought on Virgin reception

By Grace Jones | posted on March 29, 2019

RIO Tinto Iron Ore General Manager of Communities and Communications Linda Dawson has described their regional Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) program as a lifestyle choice for employees and their families.

This follows the City of Albany inviting submissions on the 10-year contract with Virgin Australia Regional Airlines Pty Ltd for a reception point, transfer terminal baggage handling and associated airline operations at the Albany Regional Airport Terminal.

Ms Dawson said direct flights from Albany to the Pilbara commenced in March 2012 and now had “approximately 135 employees commuting from Albany”.

“For Rio Tinto, we believe it’s important to contribute to the communities where we live and work, and our workforce in the Albany/Great Southern have established deep connections to the region,” she said.

“Rio Tinto has a long history of supporting economic development both in regional WA.

“In 2016, Rio Tinto’s regional WA FIFO workforce was estimated to have generated a total spend of $424.5 million with a flow on economic impact of $184.7 million, creating almost 1,250 jobs.”

Virgin Australia operated out of the Albany Airport in previous years with a passenger service but was forced to cease operations in 2016 due to low customer demand.

To cater for Rio Tinto’s regional FIFO service, Virgin runs weekly private charters.

Also up for public comment is a proposed five year contract with Regional Express Pty Ltd, or Rex, for airline reception, office space and associated airline operations and transfer or terminal baggage.

City of Albany CEO Andrew Sharpe said the proposed contract “for Rex will enable them to continue to operate the existing RPT service” at the Albany Airport.

“The proposed license with Virgin Australia will allow them to use the airport’s facilities to continue to provide the existing closed charter service for Rio Tinto, flying FIFO workers from Albany,” he said.

In a City council meeting last month, councillors voted unanimously to allow Rex to increase the price on their Community Fare tickets by $10 from its low-cost $129 fare.

Public comment on both proposed contracts closes on April 4.