Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce believes there is still room for growth in the West Australian air travel market despite a lull in resources investment.
With Virgin Australia stepping up its focus on flights to mine sites and regional centres, Qantas has moved to solidify its position as the largest provider of flights in the resource-rich state by expanding its facilities at Perth Airport. It will take its total spending in Perth over the last four years to more than $100 million.
The airline plans to build a new Qantas Club lounge at Perth Airport and improve business-class services, including lie-flat beds on interstate flights and an a la carte menu. As of this week, all flights between Perth and Melbourne and Sydney will be operated by wide-body A330 aircraft.
The airline plans to expand its West Australia business by 22 per cent this year, which will be largely from the contracts it has secured with resource companies.
Speaking at Perth Airport,
Mr Joyce announced further inroads into the lucrative fly-in
fly-out market with larger aircraft and increased services between Perth and key destinations, including Karratha, Learmonth and Geraldton.
However, Mr Joyce conceded the airline was not likely to achieve the same level of growth next year due to softening in the resources sector.
"We're still thinking that there is growth for the Qantas group, some of it, for continuing to move share, particularly in the fly-in fly-out market," he said.
"But we do think it won't be the same as the 22 per cent [growth] we're putting in this year. Hopefully, we think there could still be double-digit growth for us."
The new Qantas lounge will be built at Perth Airport's Terminal 3 and provide another 130 seats to the 600-seat capacity provided by the extended lounge in Terminal 4.
Qantas faces stiffer competition on regional routes and flights to mine sites from Virgin, which recently acquired West Australian airline Skywest.
Virgin has cleared the last major hurdle in its bid to take control of budget airline Tiger Australia by gaining approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board on Tuesday. The airline expects to complete the purchase of a 60 per cent stake in Tiger by July.