Jetstar resumed flights between Victoria and Ballina today. (Photo: Archive)
Jetstar resumed flights between Victoria and Ballina today. (Photo: Archive)

Schoolies floodgates open, Ballina accepts Melbourne flights

BIGGER jets, resumed flights, and new routes are set to bring more people than ever to the Northern Rivers through what has become the state's second busiest airport.

After 133 days, Jetstar's direct flights between Melbourne and Ballina resumed, after restrictions eased in Victoria - just in time for Schoolies, which officially begins at Byron Bay on the weekend.

An airline spokesman said: "For the rest of November, we'll operate 16 return flights between Ballina and Sydney, and six weekly return flights between Ballina and Melbourne," he said.

"In December we'll ramp up our operations to operate up to 32 return weekly flights to and from Ballina."

 

A Jetstar flight between Ballina and Melbourne.
A Jetstar flight between Ballina and Melbourne.

 

The airline operated Airbus 320 planes with a capacity of up to 186 passengers.

Ballina Byron Gateway Airport general manager, Julie Stewart, welcomed the arrival.

"It's wonderful to have our Victorian friends and families back in our fold, and we welcome all our Melbourne visitors," she said.

"The airlines are adjusting their schedules almost daily, but you'll notice there are more flights now because we also have Fly Pelican doing the Canberra and the Dubbo services."

Ms Stewart confirmed Ballina remained the second busiest airport in NSW, after Sydney.

Qantas has also upgraded some of the aeroplanes flying between Sydney and Ballina, a spokesman confirmed.

"In total we're operating 26 return services between Sydney and Ballina each week," he said. "10 of these are operated by our Boeing 737-800, which offers business and economy cabins, with 180 seats on board. The rest of the flights are operating predominantly by our 72 seater Q400 aircraft."

A Virgin Australia spokeswoman also confirmed extra seats in the coming weeks for Ballina services.

"Virgin Australia is pleased to be adding more services between Sydney and Ballina over the busy Christmas and New Year period, with an additional 10,000 seats available so Australians can enjoy a well-deserved holiday," she said.

Ms Stewart said the airport continued with strict COVID-safety measures.

"Ballina is still operating as a COVID-safe airport, so we still have all our practices in place: we still have temperature testing, hand sanitiser, we are asking people to wear masks when it's busy, and we are restricting the terminal to just passengers," she said.

 

Jetstar passengers having their body temperature checked by NSW Health at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport on July 3.
Jetstar passengers having their body temperature checked by NSW Health at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport on July 3.

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