SUNNY SMILES: UK travellers Helena Graham (left) and Sabina Bunger soak up some Australian sun at Ballina airport while waiting
SUNNY SMILES: UK travellers Helena Graham (left) and Sabina Bunger soak up some Australian sun at Ballina airport while waiting

One-in-three flights delayed

By MARY MANN

IF YOU were flying out of Ballina with Virgin Blue or Regional Express last December, you had about a one-in-three chance that your flight would be delayed.

It's enough to make even the most patient traveller grumpy, but holidaymakers Helena Graham and Sabina Bunger were yesterday more concerned about recent rain than delays.

On holidays from London, the pair spoke to The Northern Star while waiting to board a Virgin Blue flight to Sydney.

They reported that only one of the half-a-dozen flights they had taken in the past three weeks had been delayed and it wasn't even in Australia.

"The only flight delayed was from London to Sydney, but we only had to wait about half an hour," Sabina said.

"We're more worried about the weather we came here for sunshine but it's been raining just about the whole time."

According to the most recent Federal Government aviation statistics, only 68 per cent of the 100 REX and 66.7 per cent of the 45 Virgin Blue flights out of Ballina last December departed on time.

Jetstar was by far the most punctual at Ballina. The airline dispatched 80 per cent of its 30 flights away on time in December but that was at the cost of a mountain of criticism for its rigid check-in times, which has seen passengers miss flights.

Overall in December, of the 175 flights to leave Ballina, 69.7 per cent left on time about the same you could expect from most other regional airports, but slightly below the average for Brisbane (79.5 per cent). Townsville won the on-time trophy in December, with planes leaving on time 90.1 per cent of the time.

The statistics are similar to the two preceding months, although in October Virgin Blue managed to get 90.9 per cent of its flights departing Ballina into the air on schedule.

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said sticking to a schedule was an important part of business.

"We know our passengers value that," he said.

"We seek to provide flexibility, but people need to stick to the check-in times.

"If we don't have on-time operations it affects the whole business."

Lismore Regional Airport statistics were not included in the report.



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