Pel Air fortune turns

AUSTRALIA’S largest independent regional carrier is grounding freighters and laying off staff due to falling demand.

Regional Express subsidiary Pel Air will ground 10 Metro III freighters along with 20 pilots and four ground staff. The airline said the last Metro III run would be on 29 May.

This is a dramatic reversal in fortunes for the carrier, which was desperately trying to hire more pilots last year to cope with increased demand.

Regional Express managing director, Jim Davis, said five pilots had already been made redundant and the rest were being processed.

“We’ve had quite a few contracts cancelled and they’ve moved either to freight or into the belly space of the airline,” Davis said. “In some cases, the overnight express service has gone down to an overnight service and instead of being delivered at 9am it is delivered at 12am.”

Freight will now be carried in the carrier’s Saab 340 aircraft, which it says carry freight more efficiently and economically than the smaller Metro IIIs.

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