Temperature screenings at Ballina airport in June.
Temperature screenings at Ballina airport in June.

Cheap flights from COVID hotspot sparks concern

WITH Sydney CBD now declared a COVID hotspot on the same day that an airline announced a massive sale, Northern Rivers residents have become uneasy with unrestricted flights into the area.

Yesterday Virgin announced a sale that includes $79 one-way tickets between Ballina and Sydney in selected dates between September and October.

The news made some of our online readers very angry, with some of them commenting on social media.

"Why would the government be allowing these flights in the first place?" asked one, while another said "Stop all planes, best thing."

Ballina Byron Gateway Airport general manager Julie Stewart said the number of Sydney to Ballina flights into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport remains steady.

"Unfortunately we are not able to provide passengers numbers, however the number of Sydney flights into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport is down 20% compared with pre-COVID services," she said.

"Ballina Byron Gateway Airport has been working hard to introduce new services such as Canberra and from August 28, Dubbo, while still complying with COVID-19 safe plans and NSW public health order requirements."

 

Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 aircraft landing and taxing to the terminal at Ballina Airport in 2012. Photo Jay Cronan
Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 aircraft landing and taxing to the terminal at Ballina Airport in 2012. Photo Jay Cronan

 

Ballina MP Tamara Smith said she understood the community's fears.

"I'm concerned about the spread of coronavirus, full stop, as I think everyone is" she said.

"That's why we have the Public Health Orders that we have.

"With the population density up here, that's in our favour, and people here are doing the right thing.

"It doesn't really matter where someone comes from, people need to follow the health advice and restrictions, and anyone who does not, will face serious penalties and criminal charges."

There are three direct flights from Sydney arriving to Ballina tomorrow Wednesday.