Qantaslink plane. Picture: ANDREAS SMETANA
Qantaslink plane. Picture: ANDREAS SMETANA

Qantas delays new Ballina route, Jetstar cuts flights

THE flying kangaroo will not return to Ballina's skies this month, with Qantas announcing the daily return flights to Ballina from Sydney had been delayed indefinitely.

The new Sydney to Ballina service was scheduled to start on Sunday, March 29.

The flights were to be operated by a 50-seat propeller-driven Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft, adding more than 36,000 seats into Ballina each year.

The company announced the delay as it confirmed 30,000 of its employers will be stood down from today until at least the end of May.

All regularly scheduled Qantas and Jetstar international flights from Australia will be suspended from end March until at least end May 2020.

Nationally, the carrier announced a 60 per cent reduction in capacity, coming mostly from a significant reduction in flight frequency, but also route suspensions and postponing a number of new route launches, such as Ballina.

Jetstar has confirmed it will continue operating a Ballina-Sydney service, but the number will be reduced from 18 to only seven services a week.

It's been 15 years since Qantas flew into Ballina airport.

The airline was going to join Jetstar, Virgin and FlyPelican on the Ballina tarmac, with the carriers providing links to Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle.

Both Qantas and Jetstar are converting all bookings on cancelled flights to a travel credit, which can be used anywhere on their network.

Affected customers will be contacted directly from next Monday.

Any customers travelling before the end of May who wish to change their booking are also eligible to receive a travel credit instead.

If flights were booked through a travel agency or third-party website, customers will need to contact them directly to make changes to their booking.