Canberra airport will introduce direct flights to Ballina-Byron from July 3. File Photo.
Canberra airport will introduce direct flights to Ballina-Byron from July 3. File Photo.

The economic impact of cheaper, quicker flights to Canberra

A NEW flight service between Canberra and Ballina is a win-win for locals according to mayor David Wright and Page MP Kevin Hogan.

FlyPelican will carry out return flights three days per week from July 3, in a first for the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.

Ballina’s civic leaders agree the new flight path will unlock economic opportunities, and make travel more affordable and easier for regular travellers to and from Canberra.

Mr Hogan, who travels to Canberra for work in federal parliament, takes two flights one from Ballina to Sydney, and then from Sydney to Canberra.

“Direct flights are always cheaper than taking two, and will take less time,” he said.

“But more importantly it’s another direct route to Ballina, and more people through the airport equates to more economic activity.”

He said the demand for this service would come from travellers more so than the business community.

“There have been direct Canberra to Gold Coast flights we know Canberrans like to come to the Gold Coast, we’d like to get them here too,” he said.

Cr Wright said he was amazed at how quickly business through the airport was rebuilding at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were told the airport would be running 18 flights per week by the school holidays, instead we’ll have 42 flights per week,” Cr Wright said.

“FlyPelican planes don’t hold the same passenger numbers as QantasLink or Jetstar, but it’s good to have businesses interested in expanding here.

“Ballina is growing, and the airport is a vital part of that.”

Cr Wright said the future prosperity and growth of the airport depended on the $40 million runway widening and lengthening project which is in council’s plans, but only partly funded.

“I’ll be in meetings the next few days trying to rattle up some extra cash, I’d like to see it fast-tracked,” he said.