Class act for the schoolies

JETSTAR Ballina-Melbourne direct flights are running again, but only for three weeks.

General manager corporate relations for Jetstar, Simon Westaway, said the services were running to ‘accommodate Schoolies vacations’.

“Direct Melbourne-Ballina flights ran last Saturday, and will run this Saturday and the following Saturday,” he said.

“We never pulled out flights around Schoolies, because these were already booked, some up to a year ago. We didn’t want to create any disruptions to their travel plans.”

Mr Westaway said Jetstar responded to market demand when they axed the flights.

“The route was operating at a significant loss, and wasn’t performing to expectations,” he said.

Mr Westaway said the service would not be reinstated past the first weekend of December ‘at this point in time’.

“We’ll never rule out a future revisit, but it’s not our plan to do that in the current environment, and we will focus on growing our Sydney operations,” he said.

“We need to operate a sustainable schedule because we couldn’t continue to wear a loss-making flight like that,” he said.

Mr Westaway said Jetstar has instead implemented extra Sydney flights to meet the demand, and has nine Ballina-Sydney flights a week.

Ballina councillor Alan Brown said the council would ‘welcome the return of flights to Melbourne’.

“I know for a fact there was good use of it, and the community reacted to the cessation of flights very strongly,” he said.

“We would be terribly excited if someone said they were going to start up the Ballina to Melbourne flights, and I think the community would be too.”

Cr Brown said there had been no interest from other carriers.

“We do have a lot of people with connections in Melbourne, and I think they would be happy to pay a reasonable fare,” he said.

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