The number of passengers flying out of Illawarra Regional Airport on Fly Corporate services to Melbourne and Brisbane is growing.
And if the trend continues the airline may look at expanding operations and introducing additional services to and from other destinations.
Passenger numbers to Melbourne have been consistently strong and the patronage on Brisbane flights is better than expected, according to Fly Corporate sales manager Jake Small.
"Brisbane is ahead of what we forecast"
Mr Small and Strategy and Development manager Jeff Boyd visited Shellharbour on Thursday for the six month celebration of the regional airline introducing regular services between Wollongong, Melbourne and Brisbane.
They were not able to say when and where any new services would operate. But said if passenger numbers continue to improve it would ensure the sustainability of long term operations on existing services and new routes being considered.
Mr Small said the services were introduced in November 2018 and the schedule has recently been enhanced.
Fly Corporate decided to commence services when it saw the growth potential of the route and believed there was significant community support for an ongoing service after JetGo went into administration and suspended flights.
Mr Small said the airline had delivered a reliable air service to the region including peak morning and evening services.
He said when Fly Corporate flights started in November it was just prior to the Christmas/New Year period and the airline began operating from Albion Park with a holiday schedule for summer.
In February and March it reviewed the situation and was so happy with passengers numbers that the airline decided to introduce an enhanced schedule in April with 32 flights per week.
Mr Small and Mr Boyd noted how the direct flights from Melbourne and Brisbane to Illawarra Regional Airport had achieved an industry leading on-time performance of 94.8 per cent. And there have been no diversions since the commencement of Fly Corporate services.
The feel Shellharbour, Wollongong, Kiama, Nowra, Southern Highlands and South Coast residents who are using instead of commuting to and from Sydney Airport.
Mr Small said passengers have told them they have saved up to five hours per return trip.
"We are continuing to build strong local relationships and would like to thank the Illawarra and Southern Highlands community and surrounds for their support over the past six months, and request their ongoing support to ensure that the services continue to grow".
Asked about patronage on the Wings Over Illawarra weekend Mr Small said passengers numbers were always high on Saturdays and Sundays and that was definitely the case two weeks ago.
Essendon Fields Airport general manager of aviation Colin Fort said a newly refurbished terminal at that Melbourne airport will only continue to improve the customer experience.
"We look forward to partnering with Fly Corporate in the years to come to continue building quality connections in and out of Melbourne," he said.
Fly Corporate chief executive Andrew Major said there was a variety of people using the services to and from Albion Park for different reasons.
While some passengers are doing leisure and family travel and others are flying for business and government reasons.
"It has also been rewarding to receive so many positive reviews complimenting the convenience, comfort and high standard of the services," Mr Major said.
"We are committed to the continued provision of this reliable and convenient airline service".
Mr Small said one thing the airline has noted is people using the Albion Park services to Melbourne and Brisbane were telling their friends and that was attracting new passengers.
"And we are getting more returning passengers," he said.
"Our message is as the service grows there will be more opportunities to take on new customers. We are seeing strong support. And if that continues we will be there for the long term and we will be able to expand our services".