The province of Western Australia has granted two airlines monopoly rights over air service to some 10 small communities surrounding Perth. The $45 million contract awards Skywest Airlines coastal routes as far north as Exmouth and southeast to Esperane, and gives Skippers Aviation the rights to inland destinations, namely the gold-mining towns of Meekatharra, Wiluna, Leinster, Laverton, Leonora and Mount Magnet. The airlines will share the popular route between Perth and Geraldton, where demand has grown to require 50 flights a week.
In return for monopoly rights, the deal requires each airline to serve designated regional centers that might otherwise prove unprofitable and prevents them from unilaterally increasing fares. The contract runs for a period of three years, at which time the airlines may exercise an option for a two-year extension. Based in Perth, Skippers will use Embraer Brasilias and de Havilland Dash 8-100s for the service, while Skywest flies 48-seat Fokker 50s.