The weather is finally warming up, the days are about to get longer, and your suitcase is ready to be dusted off for a beachside getaway. But let’s face it, making your way to an airport and flying with a major carrier such as Qantas or Virgin currently doesn’t sound ideal. The words “delays,” “cancellations,” and “lost baggage” are flooding our news feeds daily. However, there is hope for you, with these seven regional Australian airlines continuing to grow and sometimes offering more than you think.
Now you may not be able to trust another airline associated with an animal after Australia’s flying kangaroo bounced away with your luggage, but this airline is bound to change your mind. Named after the long-beaked water bird, FlyPelican operates as both a regional airline and aircraft charter company. Based out of the beach city of Newcastle, it’s the story of ‘three times a charm,’ with the Australian airline reborn from the scraps of Aeropelican, which was owned by now-collapsed Ansett Australia.
As one of the regional Australian airlines that is currently overlooked, it operates a fleet of 19-seat British Aerospace Jetstream 32 aircraft. This may not mean much to the average traveller, so all you need to know is that the turboprop aircraft is fitted with newly refurbished leather seats with tray tables, an onboard lavatory and an air-conditioned pressured cabin to ensure that you are able to travel to your destination in comfort. You can earn points and lounge access with Velocity Frequent Flyer as well, so you can still fly small and access some added benefits.
If you are not in the mood to risk whether you will be seated next to a screaming child or someone who thinks that toenail clipping is an appropriate activity for a flight, then you are in luck. Expect only the best service if you charter one of FlyPelican’s aircraft. Benefits include avoiding lengthy airport delays, having a complete travel solution including ground transfers and catering, and flying when you want and where you want, anywhere in Australia.
Destinations: Ballina, Dubbo, Port Macquarie, Mudgee, Cobar, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Bathurst.
With an extraordinary landscape, picturesque views and a buzz of calmness and serenity, this isn’t Sydney Airport on a Monday morning. Hinterland Aviation takes its passengers into the depths of the Sunshine State, operating as both a regular public transport and charter service, uncovering the hidden gems of the nation.
Being north Queensland’s number one choice for charter sees those in tourism, mining, electrical, and government sectors choose to fly with Hinterland Aviation. The airline offers corporate charters, Fly-In, Fly-Out charters, holiday travel, medivac and scenic flights, allowing anyone to be able to immerse within the birdwatching paradise of Karumba or have a go at fishing in Pormpuraaw, connecting with Australia’s Aboriginal communities.
Hinterland Aviation has been operating for over 35 years, flying 17 aircraft and conducting over 5,000 flights per year, dominating most regional Australian airlines. They emphasise bringing the customer the highest level of safety, being one of only five small aeroplane operators in Australia to meet the Regular Public Transport standard. This is the highest approval the Civil Aviation Safety Authority issues, which definitely breathes a sigh of relief.
Destinations: Cairns, Cooktown, Coen, Pormpuraaw, Kowanyama, Karumba, Kidston, Palm Island, Labona, Rockhampton, Townsville
If you want to keep a close relationship with Link Airways, the last thing you want to do is confuse the airline with QantasLink. In fact, with their competitive pricing options, they have been applauded for breaking large monopolies such as Qantas in regional areas, so these companies aren’t exactly two peas in a pod.
Link Airways is quickly becoming a major player among regional Australian airlines, announcing partnerships with Virgin in its Velocity Frequent Flyer Program and lounges. However, the airline stands on its own, operating under the established company of 50 years, Corporate Air. Link aims to be the airline of choice, having prominence on the east coast of regional Australia.
Travel in comfort with sink-in seats, large overhead bins and complimentary refreshments, with Link Airways also having some of the most advanced technology seen in turboprop aircraft today. And if you are planning on taking all of your extended family on holiday with you (good luck), Link Airways has you covered, offering discounts for groups of 10 or more.
Destinations: Armidale, Biloela, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Hobart, Inverell, Melbourne, Narrabri, Newcastle, Orange, Sydney, Tamworth and Wollongong (Shellharbour).
Its name screams out the obvious. This airline reigns the red dirt, deep culture and vast landscape of the Northern Territory. Despite a rich history of over 40 years in business, Airnorth stays relatively quiet elsewhere across the country. It once tried to join other regional Australian airlines and dabble in the states on Australia’s east coast. However, the expansion never really took off, making the Airnorth stick to its origins in the NT.
Operating a fleet of Embraer jets, the modern aircraft ensure ultimate performance and operational efficiency. But what does this mean for travellers? Nothing but complimentary refreshments, leather seats and free checked baggage to account for the excessive amount of souvenirs. Airnorth offers a chance to explore ‘untouched’ lands, including Arnhem Land. However, it does not come without a cost, with flights from Darwin to Milingimbi starting from $420 one way.
Destinations: Alice Springs, Broome, Cairns, Darwin, Dili (Timor-Leste), Elcho Island, Gove, Groote Eylandt, Katherine, Kununurra, Maningrida, Macarthur River, Milingimbi, Perth, Tennant Creek, Toowoomba and Townsville.
Skippy the bush kangaroo would rather its name be seen within Skippers Aviation than its face be on Qantas’ red tail at the moment. Skippers lives and breathes regional Western Australia, connecting The Wildflower State with its mining and greater business community and is striving to be an innovative leader in the air charter field. However, travellers need to be weary that scheduled flights do not occur 7 days a week.
If being stuck on hold to 13Cabs doesn’t really take your fancy, the charter service also operates flights to unique locations, including Leeuwin Estate in the Margaret River region, allowing travellers to kick back with a bottle of Chardonnay. The airline uses a varied array of aircraft, including the 108-seater Fokker 100 Jet right through to the 9-passenger Cessna Conquest C441, perfect for operating into short, semi-prepared strips, even though you may not be able to remember the trip home.
Who doesn’t love snagging themselves a deal? For those who live in Laverton, Leonora, Mount Magnet, Meekatharra and Wiluna, you can take advantage of ‘The Regional Airfare Zone Cap’ scheme, a partnership between the Western Australian Government and Skippers Aviation. Under the scheme, a one-way airfare ticket to Perth will be capped at the price of $199 when booked on a return basis, another reason to choose to go with regional Australian airlines instead.
Destinations: Broome, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Laverton, Leonara, Meekatharra, Mt Magnet and Wiluna.
2015 was a big year for Johnathan Thurston. Not only did he kick the winning goal in the NRL Grand Final, but he also shook hands with pilot and business expert Peter Collings, sealing the repurposing and relaunching of Skytrans.
Born and bred in the Sunshine State, Skytrans is one of the regional Australian airlines that is currently servicing thousands of passengers each year. Its services allow for regional and remote destinations to be uncovered with a small fleet of the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100, bringing a whole new perspective to island hopping.
Skytrans has a proud community focus behind its name and is a part of Queensland’s Local Fare Scheme. Yes, that’s right, another Australian airline that is making travel accessible and affordable. The Local Fare Scheme is an airfare subsidy that aims to improve the cost of airfares for regional and remote residents, with eligible residents saving $200 for one-way bookings when travelling between eligible airports in the Cape York and Torres Strait regions.
Skytrans has also recently unveiled plans to launch Australia’s first hydrogen-electric aircraft, which will be in the skies by 2026, a move that will lead Australia’s aviation industry and definitely bring a bigger name to Skytrans. Who would have thought that one smaller Australian airline could do so much?
Destinations: Aurukan, Badu Island, Boigu Island, Cairns, Coconut Island, Darnley Island, Horn Island, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Mabuiag Island, Kubin Village, Murray Island, Pormpuraaw, Saibai Island, Warraber Island, Yam Island and Yorke Island.
Now it may not be your stock-standard commercial airline, but if you are after something different and planning on travelling south to the Apple Isle, Par Avion will offer you untraditional flight services across Tasmania. The airline has been operating for over three decades as Tasmania’s primary transport airline. However, what makes Par Avion different is the airline’s focus on offering experiences. If being dropped off into the Tasmanian wilderness for days to connect with nature is your cup of tea, then keep reading.
Spanning the southwest, east coast and west coast, the Australian airline offers scenic flights, tours, drop-offs and pick-ups. One of its most well known-services is its southwest bushwalking experience, flying to and from Melaleuca in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park. Flights operate daily for hikers from Cambridge/Hobart Airport, with tickets at $325 per person.
The airline operates small aircraft, largely Cessnas, with its biggest seating up to 9 passengers, an intimate joyride enabling smaller destinations across Tasmania to be uncovered. Par Avion also operates a charter service across Tasmania for private, corporate and government clients who will be treated to comfortable interiors and excellent visibility, getting to see the best of Tasmania from above. Locations the airline charters to stretch from King Island in the west, Bruny Island in the south and Maria Island in the east.
Although the cost of flying with an airline that doesn’t make its way into the daily news can climb higher than what one may like to pay, it may be considered worth it. From personalised experiences to the largest list of destinations that span across remote and regional Australia, there is something for everyone.
As you now get ready to book a seat with regional Australian airlines, make sure to also check out some of Australia’s most obscure and remote airports. You might just be flying into one of them soon!
Have you ever flown with one of the regional Australian airlines listed above? Let us know your experiences below!