The new regular flight service connecting the Illawarra to Brisbane and Melbourne will be a boon for tourism and business, regional leaders say.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery congratulated his Shellharbour counterparts for signing off on a deal with JetGo, saying the passenger flights would benefit the wider region.
“Congratulations to Shellharbour council for taking the initiative because it’s a major win for the whole region,” he said.
“Any extra connectivity between the region and other centres is really positive. We can build on that and see what we can do about new tourism opportunities, and also for attracting new businesses.”
However, like many others in the region, Cr Bradbery warned flight costs would need to stay competitive if the service was to succeed long-term.
You can now say there’s an air route that means we’re available for a quick visit, and people here can do business elsewhere.Gordon Bradbery.
Similarly, Destination Wollongong boss Mark Sleigh said the flights could boost the burgeoning cruise ship industry and open up other tourism opportunities along the South Coast.
“As we mature as a destination there’s absolutely no region not to have commercial airline services here, and Shellharbour council should be commended on starting that process off,” Mr Sleigh said.
Meantime, after the council’s late decision on Tuesday, more details of the JetGo deal have emerged.
The council says it will not charge a runway tax, but will charge a passenger head fee which will be negotiated with the airline and is commercially in confidence.
The company will use Brazilian manufactured Embraer jets, which the council says are “fast and extremely quiet - one of few commercial jet aircraft permitted to operate in and out of Sydney during the curfew”.
“Worldwide, the Embraer Regional Jet fleet has accumulated over 27 million flight hours without a single major accident,” the council said in a media statement.
“Because they climb and descend more rapidly, they spend less time in turbulence at lower altitudes.”
The Melbourne flights will operate from Essendon, which is the city’s original airport and closest to the CBD.