Qantas ready to land in Ballina for first time in 15 years
THE flying kangaroo will return over Ballina's skies from Wednesday, July 1, after a 15-year hiatus.
As travel restrictions start to ease across the country, Qantas and Jetstar will increase their domestic and regional flying for June and July.
QantasLink will be offering four return flights a week between Ballina and Sydney, while Jetstar will upgrade from two to four flights a week to Sydney and three to Melbourne.
The QantasLink DHC-8 400 Series aircraft, with 74 economy seats, will touch down on the runway at 12.35pm with the returning flight to Sydney departing at 1.15pm.
The service was originally announced to start on March 29.
It is a highly anticipated return - it's been 15 years since Qantas flew into Ballina airport.
The new plans mean a change of aircraft.
Originally, the company had announced the flights would be operated by a 50-seat propeller-driven Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft.
Now the route will be serviced by the DHC-8 400 Series aircraft.
The change means that former Ballina resident Kate Eales will not be able to pilot the first flight into Ballina, as originally expected.
Born and bred in Ballina, Kate attended Southern Cross K-12 School and, soon after finishing, told her mum she wanted to be a pilot.
Unfortunately, Qantas confirmed yesterday the change of aircraft mean that Ms Eales will not be the pilot to land on the local tarmac.
From Ballina, Fly Pelican is offering flights to Newcastle and Sydney (via Newcastle and direct), and Canberra.
Rex Airlines is offering direct flights to Sydney.
Virgin has not yet resumed flights to and from Ballina.