Ballina Byron Gateway Airport has been among the many regional airports hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ballina Byron Gateway Airport has been among the many regional airports hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airlines ‘keeping their word’ with extra flights

MORE flights are returning to the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport from the end of June.

Qantas and Jetstar have announced increase to its domestic and regional flights for June and July.

For the Northern Rivers, this will mean an increase from two to 11 weekly return flights going to and from Ballina.

Jetstar has currently been operating two weekly return flights between Ballina and Sydney, but that will be increased to four by the end of this month, the company has announced.

The Ballina to Melbourne route will resume, with three weekly return flights.

A Ballina to Sydney Qantas flight had been announced earlier this year but its launch was put on hold when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

This route will begin with four weekly return flights.

According to a statement from the company, the extra services across the country will see an increase from just five per cent of pre-coronavirus levels, to 15 per cent by the end of June.

Nationally, that's another 300 flights each week.

More flights will likely kick off from July, depending on demand and further relaxation of state borders.

Ballina mayor David Wright said these changes were in line with what the airlines communicated to him about a month ago.

"They're keeping to their word," Cr Wright said.

"That's exactly what they said they'd do."

As some travel restrictions ease, Cr Wright was hopeful this would mean more people could travel to Ballina in the months ahead.
"We desperately needed the connection to Melbourne because we believe with what we've got up here and how cold it is down there those who can afford it would come up," he said.

Cr Wright said "rightly or wrongly", the region had still had visitors from southeast Queensland who were helping to keep foot outlets and the like afloat.

With restrictions easing and more flights on the horizon, he's hopeful the region will have a strong summer period for tourism, as well as ongoing growth in other areas.

Cr Wright said development applications had still been coming to the council in large quantities.

In part, he's attributed the council's planning to interest in the region.

"We've got a variety of good stores and good restaurants," he said.

"Taco Bell's even coming.

"We're going to get a Maccas and KFC out at the new service centre.

"That shows people, in a lot of different ways, have got confidence in the area."