23.4 C
Byron Shire
January 28, 2021

Qantas flies back into Ballina, with bells on

Latest News

It’s legal to grow and distribute – but only by the anointed

Byron based medicinal cannabis producer is sending cannabis to Germany in a breakthrough $92m deal yet the humble plant remains illegal for locals and continues to put people behind bars.

Other News

January 26 – a conflicting day for Australians

January 26. A conflicting date for many Australians. For some, this date reflects over 200 years of destruction and denigration of our traditional customs, values, languages, and cultural landscapes.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning 27 January, 2021

Lemon Chicken is not only a Chinese takeaway favourite, it's also a great local five piece band who play songs that you forgot you loved. They like to pick and choose from the fine selection of great tunes we all grew up on.

Teddy Sheean VC remembered in Ballina

Member for Richmond Justine Elliot spoke to a group who gathered at the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum this week to remember Victoria Cross winner, Teddy Sheean, who was awarded the highest award for bravery in 2020.

A lot to bang on about at golf clubs and bowlos

Gone are the days when services and sports clubs dished up a choice between a pie and chips, or...

Drowning risk warning for Australia Day weekend

Royal Life Saving is urging the public to take care around water this Australia Day weekend, with their research showing that the risk of drowning doubles on public holidays.

Interview with Laura Bloom

Writer Laura Bloom has just released The Women and The Girls her latest novel with Allen & Unwin. Set in the inner west of Sydney in the mid ‘70s the book details the story of three women who have left their husbands, taken their children (mainly girls) and set up a share house.

First Qantas flight arrives in Ballina to a wet welcome – photo David Lowe.

A QantasLink service from Sydney touched down in Ballina Byron Gateway Airport yesterday to a water cannon welcome from two fire trucks. It was the first flight from the airline into Ballina for fifteen years.

Airport Manager Julie Stewart said that in the wake of COVID-19 the airport has become the busiest in the state after Sydney.

Qantas flight arrives safely in Ballina – photo David Lowe.

‘Next week we’ll see an increase in services,’ she said. ‘Each of the airlines are introducing new services almost daily to Ballina.

‘It’s showing strong demand for tourism and business travel.’

With numbers during the lockdown period as low as 15 passengers a week, the airport is now looking at 5-6000 passengers travelling weekly.

Ballina Mayor David Wright said, ‘This is fantastic. It doesn’t seem like 15 years since they were here before, but this is the start of a new age for the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport.

‘You can see with the number of flights we’ve already got, up to 43 flights a week, and it will only improve.

Ballina Mayor David Wright and Ballina Byron Gateway Airport Manager Julie Stewart – photo David Lowe.

‘So I think as long as the virus stays away, and we can deal with that, I can see nothing but a really good forward future for the airport.’

Echonetdaily asked what special precautions were being taken to protect Northern Rivers locals from COVID-19 with all the extra visitors.

Ms Stewart said, ‘The airport’s been working together with the airlines to ensure the safety of the passengers and the community, so we have a number of COVID-safe practices.

‘We’re working with the airlines and the public health authorities to ensure we’re meeting all the guidelines and requirements, of both state and federal health regulations,’ she said.

Qantas flight crew at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, L-R Captain Sean Kennedy, Flight Attendant Fiona Crockett, Flight Attendant Christopher White, First Officer Adam Mather – photo David Lowe.

‘We’re implementing santisation, social distancing, temperature checks, which are above and beyond, and also ensuring the airlines are adhering to their COVID-safe plans as well.

‘We’ve increased the sanitation of staff, and the regime and protocols around that.’

Mayor Wright acknowledged the concerns of some locals.

He said, ‘I’ve certainly had a lot of people ring me, but Ballina Airport is owned by the people of the shire. Once you’ve got an airport, you work with agreements with the airlines, and airlines have got too much to lose.

‘I’ve been talking to them. The latest health guidelines for the airport are very comprehensive, and with the premier’s announcement this morning that people from certain suburbs won’t be welcomed into NSW, I think that takes people’s main worry out.’

Ms Stewart explained that Qantas and Jetstar are offering a ‘Flywell’ pack to customers, which contains hand sanitiser and wipes, as well as a mask.

She said the airport doesn’t have the authority to turn people back in case of temperature, ‘but we can alert airlines, and they have wellness practices to assess the situation, and can seek further medical advice about whether people can be carried.

‘The inbound passengers, if we detect a temperature there, they’re asked to visit a medical practitioner to seek further advice. We have no medical authority, and neither do we have any jurisdiction on giving orders to members of the public.’

Ballina Mayor David Wright at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport for the arrival of Qantas – photo David Lowe.

Mayor Wright commented on the COVID-19 situation by saying, ‘There’s been Queenslanders here right through the whole period, many of them, and enjoying it, and I think that people here have been very sensitive.

‘Their social distancing is still working. Most places I go to, people are really doing that well, and I think visitors just have to fit in with what’s happening in the shire.

‘At the moment the Prime Minister wants all the borders open, and we are happy to comply with that,’ said Mayor Wright.

‘We can’t be everyone’s police, and we’ve got a lot of people in town that depend on tourism, so you’ve got to try and balance it. At the moment, if there was any risk I’m quite certain the authorities would stop the flights,’ he said.

Tomorrow there will be another special welcome as FlyPelican commences its new service flying directly into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport from Canberra.

Airport Manager Julie Stewart said the tickets for the first flight from Canberra had sold ‘very quickly’, and anticipates a lot of enthusiasm for the new route from both the people of Canberra and the Northern Rivers.

* In breaking news, Virgin Australia is also coming back to Ballina under new ownership, with flights resuming in early August.


Photos David Lowe



Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. “we’ve got a lot of people in town that depend on tourism”
    ‘At the moment the Prime Minister wants all the borders open,”
    ‘We can’t be everyone’s police,”
    ‘So I think as long as the virus stays away, and we can deal with that,”
    …….And of course there’s not a lot older people in Ballina ,although it is worrying that a person from Melbourne, who was suffering symptoms and waiting on COVID test results boarded the XPT today for Sydney.
    I DO hope that ” virus stays away”, because there is no-one doing anything to stop it .
    Cheers, G”)

  2. Ken, look around and see just how many of we older people there are in Ballina. Tourists may be good for business, but if they bring the virus with them it could mean lockdown.

  3. Agree Pauline. The businesses won’t be happy if they have to close again. The CBD is dead at the moment with most retail business still closing at 2pm.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Rail trail debate

Geoff Meers, Suffolk Park It was good to read David Lisle’s comprehensive and reasoned discussion of the history of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor....

No respect

Chibo Mertineit, Lillian Rock Once again it’s that time of the year where we are meant to celebrate Australia day on 26 January. The day...

A window of trust

Baden Offord, Ocean Shores Wholeheartedly agree with Dave Rastovich’s spot-on letter regarding the value and benefit of The Echo, that it is a ‘trusted window’ (Letters,...

Conspiracy and pubs

Art Burroughes, Mullumbimby Regarding my article Conspiracy in the Pub becomes talking point (Echo, 20 January). How can we avoid falling foul of the growing tsunami of...
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -