Avalon is set to welcome its first flights for almost nine months after Jetstar announced it’s to relaunch twice-daily return services to Sydney on 18 December.
The low-cost carrier said it will be operating 40 per cent capacity at the airport compared with pre-COVID levels but will add more flights if demand allows.
The services, the first between the two destinations since 31 March, follow NSW’s decision to reopen its borders to Victoria.
Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said, “We’ve seen huge demand for flights between Victoria and New South Wales since last week’s announcement, so we expect travellers will be quick to take advantage of our low fares out of Avalon.”
Last week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced NSW would become the first state to remove movement restrictions to Victoria on 23 November. She told reporters the decision is a “calculated risk” but that it was important to “keep moving forward”.
“I have confidence that everyone will continue to work hard to keep everyone safe,” she said.
The news led to the wider Qantas Group announcing it would increase the number of flights per week between the two most populated states from just 10 to 250 when the border opens.
Currently, the Qantas Group is only operating flights between Sydney and Melbourne but later this month that will include services to and from Ballina Byron Bay, Mildura, Newcastle and Bendigo.
“We’re excited to bring back low fares to Avalon, helping to reconnect family and friends and give more people the opportunity for a holiday after what has been tough period for many,” added Evans.
“As well as providing a direct link to Sydney, the resumption of services will help boost tourism back into Victoria, with Avalon being the gateway to the state’s famous Great Ocean Road.
“This is an exciting milestone in rebuilding our network – providing more low fares to more people and also getting more of our team back in work.”
Avalon has made headlines throughout the crisis for introducing innovation such as a ‘touchless’ check-in kiosk with the on-screen cursor controlled by head movements and a new security system that lets passengers keep their laptops in their bags.
There’s also a bag drop so smart it will recognise customers as they approach with luggage. “It’ll automatically say ‘Welcome’ and when you put your bag down, it’ll just take it,” Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings enthused.
In May, the ambitious airport even pitched the idea Avalon could be one of just a handful to accept flights from New Zealand as flying slowly begins to resume.