Jetstar flies back into Ballina
AS THE airline industry drastically shifts its thinking to adapt to the fall out from COVID-19, Ballina Byron Gateway Airport welcomed the first Jetstar back into the area following suspension of flights due to the pandemic.
The Ballina Byron Gateway Airport manager Julie Stewart said the last Jetstar service was in late March.
"This is a positive sign and it is great for our community to connected back with our State capital and it is important that our essential works can actually access the state capital to go to work and for workers that need to return to this area, they can return this area now," she said.
Ms Stewart said the airport had seen a massive decline in their commercial flight passengers during the lockdown with the actual terminal closed, while the airport itself remained opened with general aviation, aero medical and charter services operating.
"It is a significant loss to the airport's revenues."
The airport is adhering to the NSW Health Regulations including social distancing in place, as well as the terminal being cleaned and hand sanitisers provided.
"It's been an opportunity for us to stop and pause and look at what exactly our business model is and how we can work it better, and what we can do to improve our services and access into the region and I think you will find we will continue to grow as we have a definite market share."
Ballina Shire Councillor mayor David Wright said the return of flights marked a positive milestone for the community and the battle against COVID-19.
"It's the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
"It felt like it was never going to reopen and we had other flights from Pelican and private jets but to have Jetstar back here is fantastic.
"Two flights a week will really make a difference and our shire is really trying to put an economic plan together and once people start coming all the businesses will get going."