Smiles all round for first flight
FOR Melbourne's Fairweather family consisting of mum Bec, dad Michel and kids, Ryan (11), Aidan (6) and Grace 19 months, this morning's inaugural flight from the Victorian capital to the Whitsunday coast was nothing short of "incredible".
"It's saved a lot of time and money and the flight was really good - very smooth," Mrs Fairweather said, while cradling her daughter who had fallen asleep.
Likewise, Jenna White, an emergency nurse at Melbourne's Austin Hospital, who travels to the Whitsundays fortnightly to be with her mine-worker boyfriend Ben Edwards, said today's 10.30am arrival was "easy".
Ms White said without the new direct flight she would have left Melbourne at the same time this morning but with a three-hour stopover in Brisbane and a final arrival time of 3.30pm.
"We've waited all year for this. I think it's good," she said, adding a Sunday afternoon service would be great.
And the passengers weren't the only ones happy with today's outcome.
From the Whitsunday Regional Council's mayor Jennifer Whitney and CEO Scott Waters to State Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan and Jetstar Australia and New Zealand CEO David Hall, there were smiles all round.
Mr Hall said when he last visited in November he was "really impressed" with the quality of Whitsunday tourism products and the passion displayed by representatives of both local government and the tourism industry to advocate for a Melbourne flight
"And I couldn't have wished for a better outcome than to be standing here a little over six months later, travelling up on the inaugural service directly from Melbourne to the Whitsunday coast," he said.
The new Jetstar service will bring three return flights to the Whitsunday Coast Airport every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
Cr Whitney said the route would provide 50,000 visitor seats to the Whitsundays each year "which equates to an estimated increase in economic value in the region of $36m per annum".
"This is a significant economic boost to the local economy and we look forward to welcoming a new wave of visitors to our region," she said.
Cr Whitney also paid tribute to her CEO saying Mr Waters had worked "very hard" to deliver this flight.
"And it's a wonderful credit to him," she said.