Jetstar wings in on a $69 sweetener
By DAWN COHEN
PASSENGERS on Jetstar's first flight into Ballina yesterday did not rush the free orange candy floss.
But the $69 one-way fare was considered a real sweetener for the Ramsay family, from Wollongong.
"We wanted a cheap flight to anywhere," said mother-of-three, Carol Ramsay.
The family of five is holidaying at Lakeside Caravan Park for a week.
The A320 Airbus, with 177 seats flew in on time at 11.30am, disgorging about 150 bemused passengers to a line-up of council dignitaries and media.
The three-month old aircraft, costing about $60 million, is the largest to set its wheels on the Ballina tarmac.
In May Qantas announced it was replacing its thrice-daily QantasLink service to Ballina with a single Jetstar flight.
In June REX airlines stepped in to fill the gap with an extra departure at 6.40am, to the relief of many local commuters.
Mr Alan Joyce, CEO of Jetstar, said Qantas's change to a single flight with greater seating capacity made better commercial sense.
Initial introductory fares of $28 upped the occupancy from the usual 50 per cent expected on new flights, with only a handful of empty seats on the outward bound flight.
Jetstar put on a lunch yesterday for more than 30 Ballina businesspeople, hoping to draw more support for its new venture.
"Every 17 tourists creates one local job," said Mr Joyce.
Through July the aircraft will arrive from Sydney at 10.20am and depart at 12.10pm.
In August the schedule will change to an arrival from Sydney at 4.20pm and departure at 6.10pm.
Ballina Shire Council approached Jetstar suggesting a later flight would be more suitable for the business community, mayor Cr Phil Silver said.