Ballina to Newcastle flights take off
DAILY FlyPelican flights between Ballina and Newcastle are off to a soaring start following the airline's inaugural arrival at the Ballina Byron Gateway airport yesterday.
During summer the FlyPelican flights will leave Newcastle at 7.20am, landing in Ballina at 8.40am with another morning return service departing Ballina at 9.10am and arriving in Newcastle at 10.30am.
The return service on the British Aerospace Jetstream 32 aircraft seats 19 passengers lasting about one hour and 20 minute flight.
For Wollongbar resident Jim Johnson who was a passenger on the first flight, the daily returns make travelling to Newcastle for grandparent duties much easier.
"It's a little bit nosier than the bigger aircraft but it serves a purpose and it was great," he said.
"We travel to Newcastle for grandparent duties, minding kids, so it's a great service for us and very convenient.
"We'll be using it again, that's for sure."
FlyPelican CEO Paul Graham said the service would be targeting all markets including passengers seeking leisure, visiting family and friends and business.
"The service was previous operated by another carrier which ceased in October this year," he said.
"The previous carrier's capacity was probably a bit too large an aircraft for the type of market required.
"We operate a Jetstream 32 aircraft which is has 19 seats and it's been proven over the last four or five years since the start of the Newcastle Ballina run that 19 seat aircraft are probably the ideal aircraft to provide frequency."
Mr Graham said the airline would consider increasing its services in the future.
Ballina Byron Gateway Airport manager Neil Weatherson said the addition of FlyPelican meant the airport now catered to four airlines.
"It's fantastic news," he said. "The more airlines we have, the more service we have, the more passengers we and the more destinations we'll have."
Mr Weatherson said as many as 20,000 passengers used the previous Ballina to Newcastle service in one year.
The flights start at $99 and can be purchased from the FlyPelican website at www.flypelican.com.au