Virgin Australia to buy Skywest to beef up Perth business flights

By John Walton, October 30 2012
Virgin Australia to buy Skywest to beef up Perth business flights

Virgin Australia will purchase Perth-based regional airline Skywest as part of an airline land-grab today that also saw Virgin taking a controlling 60 percent interest in Tiger Airways Australia.

Skywest is a major player in the 'fly-in-fly-out' resources sector charter operations with flights to regional Western Australia, Darwin, as well as Melbourne and Denpasar.

The deal is valued at $47 million as a full buyout of Skywest shares, and is expected to be completed by March 2013.

Skywest will in essence become Virgin Australia's version of Qantas subsidiary QantasLink: carrying Virgin branding, but actually running as its own separate airline.

It's part of John Borghetti's new three-level choice for Australian business travellers: Qantas or Virgin, Jetstar or Tiger, QantasLink or Skywest.

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said today that the deal "will enable us to fast-track our advancement in the high growth fly-in-fly out and regional markets, increasing competition in these important segments.

"We launched a regional partnership with Skywest in October 2011 and now we will be able to realise the full potential of the operation through developing a more integrated network, service and frequent flyer program," Borghetti explained.

The deal is conditional on approval from Australian and Singaporean regulators, as well as Skywest shareholders.

Related news: Singapore Airlines has also today taken a 10 percent stake in Virgin Australia.

For up-to-the-minute news on Virgin's acquisitions, follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

interesting to see that we are basically heading back to a duopoly of sorts


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

Does this mean more DJ flights for Darwin too, or could they do something tricky like buy Air North?

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