Virgin’s return makes Ballina the second busiest airport
VIRGIN Airlines has returned to the runaways of Ballina Airport for the first time since March.
The Sydney flight touched down at Australia's 'second busiest airport' on Tuesday, with the airline setto deliver three weekly direct Sydney flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
With Virgin Airlines back to business, Ballina Byron Gateway Airport manager Julie Stewart said the airport was as busy as it's ever been with most services operating.
"It's so wonderful and so exciting to have Virgin back in our airport, we welcome them with open arms and it's a fantastic day for us," she said.
"It certainly feels that way, I believe with a number of flights happening at major airports, potentially we are one of the busiest."
Ballina has become the second busiest airline in Australia behind Cairns and Ms Stewart said air travel was a terrific way to go, even during COVID-19.
"We've got all our airlines back that we had prior to COVID-19, in actual fact we've got one extra (QantasLink)," Ms Stewart said.
"The airports a very safe place to travel from.
"We're practising COVID-safe practices, we're sticking with our compliance from the Aviation and Transport Security Program and the CASA regulations (Civil Aviation Safety Authority)."
Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright said it was heartening to have such a major airline back supporting the area.
"Virgin has been very strong with us since they started and they've really supported us and we want to support them," he said.
"It's quite surprising to find out we're the second busiest airport, I think that shows that people want to come here but it shows we're prepared, a lot of our businesses didn't close our airport didn't close," Cr Wright said.
Cr Wright said Ballina was an ideal holiday destination which was set to grow in the years to come.
"They see this as one of their biggest markets, certainly in regional NSW … at the moment the way the forecast is it's just going to get bigger and better," he said.
"I can just see the airport growing exponentially in the years to come."