Regular public transport (RPT) flights are back at Illawarra Regional Airport (IRA) for the first time in almost a decade.
On Monday, Jetgo commenced nonstop flights from Illawarra Regional Airport, also known as Albion Park, to Melbourne and Brisbane.
It is the first time RPT flights have operated from the airport since the late 2000s when QantasLink ended its service to Melbourne.
The first flight, Embraer ERJ-140LR VH-ZJE operating as JG57, took off from Albion Park at 0715 Monday morning and landed at Melbourne Essendon Airport a little over an hour later.
The reciprocal JG56 left Melbourne Essendon at about 0930 and touched down Albion Park at about 1030.
To round out the inaugural day of operations, the aircraft has been scheduled to complete an Albion Park-Brisbane-Albion Park rotation, before doing a second round trip to Melbourne Essendon, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
The regional carrier is offering seven flights a week to Melbourne Essendon and six flights a week to Brisbane with Embraer ERJ-135LR/140LR jets.
Jetgo managing director for airlines Paul Bredereck said tickets sales for its Melbourne-Albion Park flights had exceeded internal expectations, which could pave the way for additional services to be added in the period ahead.
“We think this new service will go so well there is even the chance we will expand operations in the future,” Bredereck said in a statement.
Those on the inaugural service or in attendance shared some photos of the day on Twitter.
— AstroDamo (@AstroDamo) October 29, 2017
Sweet welcoming treats for the first flight out of the Illawarra with Jetgo this morning. Cupcakes for breakfast? Yep! @ShellharbourCC pic.twitter.com/MJ2IqMSGkD
— Sydney Pead (@SydneyPead) October 29, 2017
Albion Park is also the site of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) and the retirement home of Qantas’s first Boeing 747-400 VH-OJA. In June, the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF) said it had struck an agreement with HARS to establish a permanent home at Albion Park.