Captain Chris Ellison speaking: Revamped MinRes Air takes off with extra legroom

Simone Grogan
The Nightly
MinRes Air
MinRes Air Credit: Courtney McAllister | Mineral Re

A plane full of fly-in, fly-out workers has touched down in the Pilbara after travelling for the first time on Chris Ellison’s newly-branded MinRes Air, enjoying 25cm of extra legroom on their five-hour and 40 minute journey to work.

Bedecked in MinRes Air livery, the A319 aircraft took to the skies to fly Mineral Resources employees and contractors from Brisbane to the miner’s Wodgina lithium mine site and then to Ken’s bore, arriving on Tuesday ready for their next swing.

The aircraft has been revamped to reduce the number of seats from 144 to 114, offering MinRes employees a seat with 94cm to 96.5cm of legroom during the 3600km domestic flight, 25cm more than before.

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And there is another route to come, with the first flight from a “MinRes Air terminal” at Perth Airport to its Ken’s Bore iron ore hub due “in the near future”, the miner has said.

It comes after MinRes managing director Ellison had candidly revealed during an on-stage interview at a Macquarie Conference in May the company he founded would be taking the FIFO experience to the next level and launching its own airline.

“We’re starting our own airline. I’m not allowed to say that . . . but we are,” a packed room of analysts and finance-types were told at the time.

The new airline has recruited 20 captains and first officers, as well as engineers and ground staff.

MinRes Air
MinRes Air Credit: Courtney McAllister

In-flight refreshments including a hot breakfast or lunch, snacks and hot and cold drinks are offered on the weekly Brisbane service. Travellers had best bring a book however, with Wi-Fi not expected on until early 2025.

MinRes executive general manager people Bethanie Ibrahim said the airline was setting a new standard in the resources industry for facilities, food and flights.

The company already operates out of plush headquarters in Osborne Park, has been upgrading its mine site accommodation, and is building a $20-a-day childcare facility in an attempt to retain and lure more staff.

“This industry-first investment will improve safety and productivity by ensuring our people travel to and from site as quickly, conveniently and comfortably as possible,” Ms Ibrahim said.

“We have assembled an outstanding team that has decades of experience in the aviation sector and look forward to our first Perth flights taking off soon.”

MinRes Air has recruited Australian airline Skytraders for the service that has operated since January.

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