Virgin Australia has finally resumed services between Brisbane and Hamilton Island.
A Boeing 737, VH-YFP, departed the Queensland capital at 12:45pm on Tuesday carrying 150 passengers and received the traditional water cannon salute when it touched down at 2:33pm.
Moving forward, the airline will now operate three return services between the destinations on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays, a move that will add approximately 4,500 seats per month to the intra-Queensland market.
The increased network will come as a welcome relief to Virgin after Queensland formally shut its border to Greater Sydney last week.
Queensland only opened its border to NSW on 10 July but, shortly after, effectively banned people from entering the state if they had passed through selected “hotspot” areas, including the western Sydney City of Fairfield, Campbelltown and Liverpool.
Then, on Saturday, that hotspot was extended to cover all of the NSW capital city. Residents who have passed through these areas can return but must quarantine at home for 14 days on arrival.
On Monday, Australian Aviation reported how that decision caused Qantas to axe almost one-third of its schedule.
Talking to veteran interviewer Kerry O’Brien at Griffith University, Joyce called for a national framework to guide the opening and closing of state borders.
Queensland is otherwise open to the rest of the country, bar Victoria.
Hamilton Island isn’t the only destination benefiting from the collapse of interstate travel.
Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Qantas and FlyPelican have all resumed NSW services to Byron Bay.
Ballina Shire mayor David Wright was enthusiastic about the competition for flights into the airport.
“There’s a lot of people coming to be honest, and why wouldn’t they? We live in paradise,” he said.