After a 15-month absence, Tamworth has regained a direct flight to Brisbane thanks to the arrival of regional carrier Jetgo.
Flight JG62 departed the Queensland capital a little after 0930 local time on Monday and landed at Tamworth Regional Airport about 50 minutes later.
Tamworth has been without a direct flight to Brisbane since Brindabella Airlines ceased flying in December 2013.
Jetgo said flights to Tamworth, operated by a 36-seat Embraer E135, will initially run once a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during March.
The airline said its three days a week service would move to double daily from April 6 when more check-in counters become available at Brisbane Airport.
A Sunday afternoon service was scheduled to begin on April 12 and Jetgo managing director for airlines Paul Bredereck said plans to add flights on Tuesdays and Thursdays from September could be brought forward if there was enough demand.
“Already we are seeing a good response from the Tamworth community and some Brisbane-based businesses, with advanced bookings ahead of expectations” Bredereck said in a statement on Monday.
“Brisbane Airport is very busy these days, with a lot of work going on, so fitting in a new air service was always going to be a challenge, however Brisbane Airport have been just great in resolving a number of minor issues that had threatened to further delay the launch”.
The Brisbane-Tamworth route was Jetgo’s third go at establishing a regular public transport (RPT) route, after it dropped Sydney-Roma two weeks before the first flight and ended Sydney-Gladstone less than three months after launch due to a lack of corporate support.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said the direct flight to Brisbane was an important travel link for the wider region.
“This service opens up considerable opportunity for Tamworth businesses to operate in and out of Brisbane and reduces considerable travel time for those businesses that are currently flying to Brisbane via Sydney,” Murray said in a statement.
The council was spending about half a million dollars on improving the check-in facilities, baggage processing and staff at Tamworth Regional Airport, with work to start in mid-March.
QantasLink offers a direct flight between Tamworth and Sydney.