Ballina mayor defends Jetstar flights
A "HEAVILY booked" Jetstar flight from Melbourne landed in Ballina yesterday morning.
Today, two Jetstar flights are scheduled to arrive from Melbourne, at 8.50am and 3.45pm, with the latter one sold out since yesterday.
Many locals are unhappy about the situation, due to the recent increase in community transmission of COVID-19 in some areas of Greater Melbourne.
So much so, that a Facebook page called Keep Melbourne Flights out of Ballina Airport Now was created earlier this week.
Speaking at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport yesterday, Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright defended the flights.
"Everyone is concerned, and I've had some people ring me," he said.
"Once you have an airport, you work in agreement with the airlines.
"Airlines have too much to lose.
"We've had the guidelines for airports duly set up last week and it's very comprehensive."
Cr Wright said he was relieved to see the state government had announced penalties for Victorians from the 10 postcodes in lockdown if they travel to NSW.
"I think that takes people's main worry out," he said.
"It's up to the airlines when they take booking to check postcodes.
"The Prime Minister wants all the borders open and I'm very happy to comply with that, we can't be everyone's police.
"If there was any risk, the authorities would have stopped flying."
Ballina Chamber of Commerce executive officer, Deb Grant, said in theory, local businesses will welcome all visitors.
"I noticed via social media that some businesses feel like they are damned if they do and damned if they don't," she said.
"Two local caravan parks have bookings for people from Victoria during school holidays, and I understand that they need the business, and a booking is a booking … it's a hard one because you don't want businesses falling behind anymore.
"It's unfair for local businesses to have to manage all that risk."
The administrator of the Facebook page Keep Melbourne Flights out of Ballina Airport Now, who requested their name not to be published, said the risk was too high for local communities.
They said the flights needed to stop.
"If a business takes a risk because they are pressed for money and then there is an outbreak, that business would be closed for weeks and they may not be able to recover, same as our community, we need to think of the greater risk here," they said.