21 October 2020

New Newcastle link, talks on NZ flights as Airport recovery gathers momentum

| Ian Bushnell
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Link Airways

Canberra-owned Link Airways has announced direct flights to Newcastle, and will soon launch its service to Hobart. File photo

Another regional air route will take off from Canberra Airport next month, and direct flights to New Zealand as part of the trans-Tasman travel bubble are still on the cards.

Canberra-owned Link Airways has announced that from 20 November it will fly direct to Newcastle four times a week, increasing to 11 return services in 2021.

The hour-long flights will cost from $149 one way and bookings are open.

Link, which is also launching direct flights to Hobart from 5 November, says the new flights will help grow tourism in the two regions and boost business links.

”Newcastle offers some of the best beaches in the country, a laid-back lifestyle, great food, a busy harbour and an eclectic arts scene along with a gateway to spectacular Port Stephens and the nearby Hunter Valley where world-famous wineries, acclaimed restaurants and delicious local produce await visitor,” the airline says.

Canberra Airport said the announcement was part of a flurry of activity on the aviation front.

Two airlines had announced new Canberra connections – Alliance Airlines and Link Airways – and six new destinations are now on the Airport’s flight boards: Ballina/Byron, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Port Macquarie, Hobart, and now Newcastle.

As well, the ACT had been confirmed as being included in quarantine-free travel from New Zealand.

The airport said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had stated “any state or territory that imposes travel restrictions consistent with the Australian Government-defined hotspot, as advised by the acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, will be able to participate in the Safe Travel Zone”.

”The ACT falls within this definition and we’ve had clarification from the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr,” a spokesperson said.


Alliance will start its Sunshine Coast and Cairns service this Friday. Photo: File.

”We are optimistic that discussions will progress, now that New Zealand has had its election, and Australians will soon be able to fly quarantine-free to New Zealand.

”We are currently in discussion with a number of airlines about the possibility of a direct service between Canberra and New Zealand.”

On Friday, Alliance Airlines will launch its piggyback flight to the Sunshine Coast and Cairns, twice a week.

The new double destination service on a Fokker 100 jet is the first time Alliance Airlines has offered regular passenger services to Canberra, and fares between Canberra and the Sunshine Coast start from $169 one way, and $275 to Cairns.

The airline, headquartered in Brisbane, is one of Australia’s top regional air operators.

From 5 November, Link will provide direct flights from Canberra to Hobart for the first time since 2013.

Initially, there will be four weekly scheduled return services, but in 2021 this will grow to 11 return flights per week on the 34-passenger seat Saab 340B Plus aircraft.

From 1 November, Fly Pelican will for the first time fly direct to Port Macquarie twice a week, with a launch price of $149 one-way.

Fly Pelican’s thrice-weekly service to Ballina-Byron Bay on its Jetstream 32 turboprop aircraft have proved very popular and they will be extended until 29 January, 14 weeks longer than planned.

Since starting on 3 July, there have been 900 inbound and outbound flights.

The airport is rebuilding its business after COVID-19’s devastating impact on the aviation industry, and has deliberately courted regional airlines as part of its recovery plan.

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