TUESDAY was an exciting day for budget airline Tigerair, Proserpine's Whitsunday Coast Airport and the people of the Whitsundays and Sydney.
At 9.45am the first of the airline's new direct Sydney to Whitsunday Coast return flights landed on the tarmac at Proserpine, on time and to a warm welcome.
This was the first time in more than six years that direct flights were available between Proserpine and any interstate destination.
Tigerair Australia's head of communications Vanessa Regan, who was on the flight, said the new Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday services would deliver 56,000 additional seats through the Whitsunday Coast Airport annually, equating to more than 1000 visitor seats per week.
Ms Regan, said the airline's new direct Sydney to Whitsunday Coast return flights had been well received.
"We are an airline that evolves based on demand for our services - quite simply, the more demand and the more people choose to fly with Tigerair, the more opportunities there are for developments down the track," she said.
"[In this case] we've certainly been overwhelmed by the demand for our services - from the 42km run that [Whitsunday resident] Brad Sobott did to help push for local services, to the Mackay/Whitsunday taxis here today flying the Tigerair colours, to Whitsundays to Everywhere transfers and the local accommodation parties who have been so supportive in the promotion of our services - thank you all."
Mayor Jennifer Whitney, who was also on the first flight, said it was "an absolute pleasure" and something that Whitsunday Regional Council had worked very hard to secure.
Whitsunday Regional Council CEO Scott Waters expanded on this by saying Council had worked very closely with Tigerair on route development and a number of different business scenarios before entering into confidential negotiations with the airline to secure those services.
"We were very confident, as we have been for a long time, about our business cases stacking up and being able to deliver shared benefits for the airline, the community and the region," he said.
Cr Whitney said this was just the beginning of exciting times at the airport ahead.
"Whitsunday Regional Council is working with the airlines and investors to expand existing flight routes and new routes and develop the airport with the aim of upgrading to international status in time," she said.
Tigerair's return flights are scheduled three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This week's flights leave Sydney at 8.15am, arrive at Proserpine at 9.45am and depart on the return leg at 10.15am.
From Sunday, when daylight saving ends, flights leave Sydney at 10.45am and Proserpine at 11.15am, arriving in Sydney at 1.25pm.