Regional carrier Fly Corporate has expanded into Victoria for the first time with the start of nonstop flights between Melbourne Essendon and Orange.
The inaugural service took off from Orange on Monday morning, with flight FC332 operated by Saab 340B VH-VEM touching down at Melbourne Essendon about 90 minutes later, where it received a traditional welcome from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
The aircraft was on the ground for about an hour before operating the reciprocal FC333 back to Orange.
Fly Corporate has scheduled a single return service on weekdays as a late morning departure from Orange and a lunchtime takeoff back from Melbourne Essendon.
It is the second Fly Corporate route from Orange, following the start of flights between the NSW Central West city and Brisbane in February 2017 with Saab 340B equipment.
Regional Express’ (Rex) Sydney-Orange flights are only other regular public transport (RPT) service to the city of about 40,000 residents.
Canberra-based charter operator Corporate Air, which has been in operation since 1972, moved into the regular public transport (RPT) market in April 2016, establishing Fly Corporate and launching Brisbane-Coffs Harbour as its inaugural route.
Melbourne Essendon Airport has been seeking to build up its RPT offering to regional destinations, with Fly Corporate joining Sharp Airlines, Free Spirit Airlines and Jetgo with scheduled services out of the close-in Melbourne airport.
“The service by Fly Corporate to Orange is exactly the kind of service that will flourish at Essendon,” Cowan said in a statement.
“Orange passengers will enjoy the benefits of arriving at Essendon Airport especially the time savings, lack of congestion and the popular retail amenities on site.”
Melbourne Essendon Airport noted the number of regional passengers at the airport had increased from 10,000 in 2014 to 90,000 in 2017.
Meanwhile, Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said local residents had been seeking a nonstop link to Melbourne for some time.
“I’m delighted that Fly Corporate is now meeting that demand,” Cr Kidd said. “It’s another sign of the strength of the Orange economy that early bookings are also so strong.”