DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Australian regional carrier Skywest (XR) was rebranded as Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VA) in 2013.
Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson was on hand, along with VA’s then CEO John Borghetti at Perth International Airport (PER) to officially launch the new subsidiary. The first two XR jets to wear the VA livery, Fokker 100 VH-FSQ “Bill’s Bay” and Fokker 50 VH-FNA “Rockingham Beach,” were also unveiled.
The Next Chapter
Speaking at the event, Branson said, “It is fantastic what John and the team have done over the last couple of years, completely repositioning the airline with the introduction of the Virgin Australia brand and its brilliant product and service.”
“Now I am thrilled to see him focusing on other market segments, including regional and charter services where I know they will deliver. This is the start of the next ground-breaking chapter for the Virgin Australia Group and an exciting time for the airline.”
The airline would operate up to 800 flights per week to 41 destinations, utilizing a fleet of 32 aircraft. It also gave VA access to the fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) mining and corporate charter sectors. XR would continue to use its own Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and management team.
This concluded the acquisition and absorption of XR into the Virgin Group, which began with signing a 10-year alliance deal in January 2011.
VA purchased a 10% shareholding in the carrier in April 2012, followed by a full takeover bid in October. Regulatory approval was granted on April 11, 2013.
Skywest can trace its history back to 1963 when it was established as a charter carrier known as Carnarvon Air Taxis. In 1979, it moved its headquarters to PER and rebranded as Skywest.
Featured image: the ATR-72 joined the fleet in August 2011, making XR/VA the first Australian operator of the type. Photo: YSSYguy at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons