QantasLink will begin flights from Sydney to Ballina next month. Photo: Tait Schmaal.
QantasLink will begin flights from Sydney to Ballina next month. Photo: Tait Schmaal.

The extra perk of catching Qantas flights from Ballina

NORTHERN Rivers travellers will have access to an extra perk when QantasLink starts operating from the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport: check-in luggage for international flights.

Manager of Commercial Services at Ballina Shire Council, Paul Tsikleas, said QantasLink will commence Sydney to Ballina flights on Sunday, March 29, “offering more seating and convenient business timeslots.”

“For hassle free travel, passengers connecting to Qantas international flights will be able to check-in luggage at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, without the need to re-check at Sydney,” he said.

Qantas announced it will resume flights under the QantasLink brand, operated by a 50-seat propeller-driven Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft.

Regional Express (Rex) Airlines will stop flying between Sydney and Ballina on March 28.

The company said the decision was taken by the board, “in light of the sharp downturn experienced in the last six months and the poor economic outlook for the next 12 months”.

“This is not a decision that Rex has taken lightly having serviced Kangaroo Island continuously for 30 years and Ballina for 24 years, first as Kendell Airlines and then as Rex since 2002,” a statement from the board read.

Regional Express also announced that it has raised an official complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about Qantas’ behaviour of dumping excessive capacity on routes that are already extremely marginal.

The direct impact of this conduct is to force out the smaller competitor and substantially lessen competition in the long term.

Rex will be citing Qantas’ behaviour in three regional routes that go beyond “competition on the merits”, and one of them is Sydney to Ballina.

“On January 17, 2020, Qantas announced that it would mount additional services on the Sydney to Ballina route with effect from March 29,” said a statement from Rex.

“The new service targets the only service which Rex operates between Sydney and Ballina (early morning departure from Ballina and late evening return from Sydney).

“This service currently has 10,000 annual passengers serviced by Rex with 18,000 annual seats. The addition of the 36,000 annual seats from QantasLink would mean the load factor would fall to 19 per cent.”

Qantas’ Frequent Flyer Program members will also collect points on the Ballina-Byron service, and enjoy the Qantas Club lounge where available, although Ballina Byron Gateway Airport currently does not have a Qantas Regional/Club Lounge.