A Dubbo-based airline has recruited for two new positions in a move bucking the worldwide trend of lay-offs in aviation as a fall-out of COVID-19.
Air Link is trying to "stay on the front foot" to position for the growth it sees in the future, general manager Ron O'Brien said.
It is also continuing to provide regular direct flights to western NSW communities, launched in November after a deal was struck between the NSW government and the Far North West Joint Organisation.
Together with sister company Air Med, which does non-emergency patient transfers, Air Link added a casual pilot to its staff earlier this month.
The new team member was ready to go and would be getting some work through the charter side of Air Link's business at the moment, Mr O'Brien said.
The retirement of Air Link's continuing airworthiness manager (CAM), who had been employed on a casual basis for more than 15 years, also allowed the roles in the two businesses to be consolidated, with a full-time position created and advertised, the general manager reported.
The successful candidate among some "highly-respectable applications" was Pat O'Shea, Mr O'Brien said.
Veteran of the aviation industry Mr O'Shea said the Dubbo opportunity had come up within weeks of him being made redundant by a business hit by COVID-19.
In November, when the flights linking Bourke, Walgett and Lightning Ridge with Dubbo were launched, it was the first regular passenger service to the western ports in more than a decade.
Air Link had started with "a lot of confidence that we were going to achieve a lot quickly", Mr O'Brien said.
Since then there had been more drought and bushfires, before the COVID-19 pandemic had "knocked everyone for six", but they had taken their commitment "very seriously", he said.
Currently operating on a hybrid system of funding from both the state and federal governments, Air Link was flying whenever there were bookings, he said.
"We were one of the few carriers, certainly in Australia, I won't say the world, that hasn't really cancelled a flight yet," Mr O'Brien said.
"We haven't cancelled flights with passengers who have been booked, so we've had 100 per cent reliability with all of our planned schedules, all our planned flights."
A "lull" in the business in the six to eight weeks of the worst of COVID earlier this year had led to "some small reductions of days of work and hours" for staff, Mr O'Brien said.
But then a corner had been turned six weeks ago, and "everyone [was] back on deck", he said.