Alliance Airlines launched the first-ever commercial flight between the Sunshine Coast and Canberra on Friday.
The Fokker 100, VH-UQB msn 11483, departed Sunshine Coast at 11:59am as flight QQ2351 and touched down in Canberra at 2:51pm.
It follows Queensland’s decision to reopen its border to the ACT on 25 September after shutting it for a second time on 8 August. The twice-weekly service travels between Canberra and the Sunshine Coast before continuing onwards to Cairns.
Alliance chief executive Lee Schofield and Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Andrew Brodie travelled on the inaugural service and were welcomed on arrival by the head of Canberra Airport, Stephen Byron.
“We look forward to welcoming many residents of Canberra and the surrounding region onto our new services to Queensland, as well as residents of the Sunshine Coast and North Queensland heading to the nation’s capital and, once border restrictions ease, to the surrounding regions of NSW,” said Schofield.
The new route follows Alliance’s huge success in riding through the coronavirus crisis, where it capitalised on the reduced schedule of larger carriers and the need for COVID-adapted planes.
In May, the business surprisingly announced it had increased profits this financial year by $7 million and in August revealed it had agreed on a $111 million deal to purchase 14 114-seater Embraer E190s.
Its board called the financial result “exceptional” and said it would award most of its 500 employees, other than senior management, $1,000 in free shares.
The business said that while inbound tourism flights were suspended, it had seen demand actually increase in the resource sector for both regularly scheduled and charter flights.
“The company has experienced a substantial increase in demand for these services subsequent to the outbreak of COVID-19 and expects to deliver its strongest charter revenue results in many years,” it said in a statement. “The additional demand is being driven by a combination of social distancing and a lack of availability of scheduled flights by other operators.”
The business currently operates a fleet of more than 40 Fokker F100 and Fokker 70LR jet aircraft and Fokker 50 turboprops. It has operational bases in Brisbane, Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and Darwin.