Five nautical miles south east of Port Hedland, the Port Hedland International Airport (PHIA) stretches out across the red and green earth of Western Australia. It is a gateway for around 140,000 people in the region as the only airport north of Perth to fly them to interstate and international destinations.
Where can you fly from PHIA on a Saturday?
Mitchell Cameron, CEO and Managing Director of PHIA says his strategy is to engage the enlarged Pilbara catchment area so more people use it as their airport of choice. He says, “The opportunity to grow Western Australia’s only international and nationally connected airport north of Perth was the key attraction for me and we’ve developed this idea into a campaign to drive customer numbers which asks the question: ‘Where can you fly from Port Hedland International Airport on a Saturday?’”
Mitchell says people are often surprised to find out that, departing from PHIA, they can make sunset cocktails in Bali or supper in Singapore the same day. Venturing further afield, they could enjoy a big breakfast in London or a shopping spree in New York City the very next day.
Investment in regional and remote Australia
In addition to the growing passenger numbers, Mitchell is excited about planned spending in capital works, around AU$40 million planned up to March 2021, starting with income-earning assets, such as runways, taxiways, airfield lighting, aprons, before focusing on the terminal and front of house. Mitchell says, “Our current program is to review each of these assets with a view to allocating part of the $40 million capex in a medium-term capex budget plan.”
Mitchell says that while his impressive plans for PHIA are well underway, there are plenty of challenges attached to working in a remote part of Australia. Foremost is the difficulty engaging and retaining staff with the skills and experience to get the job done well. “PHIA transitioned key staff members who have all proved to be willing to change to a new culture and bring with them their working knowledge of the airport,” Mitchell says. “We’ve also been able to recruit some additional staff who have added new skills and abilities to the team.” Mitchell has found the rare opportunity to build a successful team from the ground up to be a particularly rewarding experience. “I’m proud to say the team is working well together and we’re already achieving some of the initial targets and strategic goals,” he says.