FLYING HIGH: Number of flights into Ballina set to jump
TOURISM numbers are expected to keep improving on the Northern Rivers, with the number of flights expected to increase by 30 per cent by mid-December.
Ballina Byron Gateway Airport general manager Julie Stewart said the outlook was positive for the local airport.
“I have been looking at the schedules heading up to Christmas, and I am seeing probably a 30 per cent increase in flights for the Christmas and New Year period,” she said.
Ms Stewart said Virgin, Qantas and Jetstar have increased their services to the Northern Rivers in the last weeks.
“We are currently looking at 55 flights per week,” she said.
“By mid-December that could go up into the high 60s.”
The executive said the increase in traffic will coincide with the beginning of school holidays. “We will see an increase in services, and that goes right to the end of January,” she said.
“Because the business services that normally operate between a lot of the regional communities... wind down and the leisure market ramps up.
“Once the holiday season ends we drop back to normal levels again.”
The airport will maintain its current health restrictions and operations changes at the airport throughout the December-January period.
“We are not going to change any of our processes, so the terminal will remain a passenger-only zone for the time being,” Ms Stewart said.
“We will continue with social distancing, temperature testing, sanitising, increased cleaning regime right into the future.”
The airport has also seen more staff coming into work for different roles and companies, the general manager said.
“In the main terminal we have around 50 staff, maybe even more, but then we have the general aviation precinct and then again there is probably another 50 people that are working in that area,” she explained.
“You also have the ancillary staff that support our operations: the shuttle bus drivers, retail workers, they are all significant part of our airport community.”