Q: How long was the planning for the new venue?
A: About four years. As the entire building is over Sydney Harbour the development application process was quite arduous and complex. The biggest challenge was the balancing act between Woollahra Council and NSW Maritime. The council were against the proposal and lobbied NSW Maritime strongly to refuse the proposed development.
Fortunately NSW Maritime, being a state bureaucracy, were able to see the benefit of the development to tourism and transport infrastructure to Sydney as a whole, rather than getting bogged down in very minor local issues. It is a huge improvement on the previous facility on the site and has proved very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Q: How many can you get up in the air in a day, and will the new Empire Lounge boost that capacity?
A: We can carry approximately 250-280 passengers per day on scenic flights. A typical busy summer day involves a mix of scenic flights and flight and lunch packages, making total passenger numbers on these days around 200. The Empire Lounge has increased demand for our flight services, so this coming summer we will be looking for more aircraft to boost capacity. We like to refer to the Empire Lounge as the world’s best airport lounge. It
is fully licensed, with great food options available all day and a purpose built seafood bar open daily from midday. The lounge also features a museum commemorating the flying boats that used Rose Bay as a flying boat base from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Q: Do you have packages in place that include all F&B and flights?
A: Yes we do. We have introduced a fantastic flight and seafood platter package. This involves customers being taken on the beautiful Sydney Highlights scenic flight, on landing a stunning seafood platter and two glasses of champagne are waiting for the passengers back produced at our purpose built seafood bar overlooking Rose Bay.
Q: Where do the planes go, and what is the most popular itinerary?
A: We specialise in offering flights to stunning destinations around the Sydney area. Very popular are flights to Jonah’s at Whale Beach or the Cottage Point Inn and Berowra Waters Inn in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. A very popular flight package for proposals is the Romantic Picnic which features flights from Rose Bay to a secluded beach in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. Jonah’s at Whale Beach is also a fantastic destination to celebrate a special occasion, with its award winning restaurant and accommodation overlooking Whale Beach.
Q: Are you working to get more international incentive group business?
A: We have worked with Business Events Australia and other organisations to promote Sydney and our business to the incentive group market. We have noticed a significant increase over the last two years in this sector, particularly from emerging markets like India.
Q: Is there room to grow the fleet at all if numbers pick up?
A: Absolutely, we can grow the fleet to meet increased demand and expect to do so for the upcoming 2017/2018 summer season. Even when you’re doing it well, it’s still a tough business. For instance, we’re currently looking into negotiating a better rate for fuel, as that’s a high cost. We recently implemented better refuelling infrastructure, so we’re now self-sufficient. It’s a costly investment but we’re hoping it works out better for us down the track.
Q: Do you partner with other must-do Sydney experiences?
A: We have just launched a combination package with BridgeClimb Sydney. We also work with Harbour Jet (jet boats) for specific incentive groups.