Jasmin Howard, 23 of Central Coast, returned home on the first flight between the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and Newcastle, cutting hours from her travel time.
Jasmin Howard, 23 of Central Coast, returned home on the first flight between the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and Newcastle, cutting hours from her travel time. Cathy Adams

Rex launches new flight

WHILE Australian commuters faced an agonising day of cancelled Qantas flights yesterday, passengers at Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport were celebrating the addition of an extra destination for Rex services.

The first Rex flight from Ballina to Newcastle departed at 3pm yesterday to the delight of Novocastrian traveller Jasmin Howard.

The 23-year-old was on the first flight offered by Rex to Newcastle after spending a long weekend holidaying in Byron Bay.

"I have to return to work tomorrow after a beautiful long weekend away in Byron," the childcare worker said.

"The direct flight to Newcastle will save me at least two hours travel time when I return home," she said.

"Normally I would have to fly into Sydney airport then take a train to the Central Coast. The train trip alone takes a couple of hours.

"I live about half-an-hour's drive away from the Newcastle airport, so I'll be able to head straight off the freeway and will be home within 45 minutes of the plane landing today. I'm happy about that."

Passengers were greeted with balloons and gift bags at Ballina/Byron airport to celebrate the new destination.

"It's very exciting for Ballina," Kylie Linton from the airport's operations team said.

"We will have daily flights to and from Newcastle and Ballina now," she said.

"We have done a lot of customer surveys asking people what they wanted and they wanted flights directly to Newcastle," she said.

The new flights would allow for tourists from each destination to have a weekend away, with connecting flights home making iteasy, Ms Linton said.

"You could fly into Ballina from Newcastle on Friday afternoon, stay the weekend, then go back home on Sunday afternoon."



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