The arrival of Jetstar flight JQ890 arriving 10 minutes early at Hervey Bay airport direct from Sydney on Wednesday sparked much excitement across the tourism industry.
The flight was full and the throng of arriving visitors and welcoming hosts was terrific to see after the absence of the direct flights due to the reduction in air travel during the COVID pandemic.
This was the first direct Sydney flight by Jetstar in nine years and the strong tribute of Mayor George Seymour recognising Jetstar’s confidence in the Fraser Coast was not misplaced.
Jetstar has contributed hugely to FCTE initiatives to further sell the region to the greater Sydney audience by providing free flights to more than a dozen Sydney travel writers and bloggers who were on the first flight and are now on famils throughout the region.
There is every reason for the Fraser Coast to celebrate the return of the flights as they represent one of the largest single revenue drivers for local industry during the COVID recovery period.
When it was operating daily flights, Virgin was recording about 50,000 passenger movements between Sydney and Hervey Bay. If we assume roughly half of this number was incoming passengers and they stayed three and a half days (the average time leisure visitors spend on the Fraser Coast), the value to the region would be between $20m and $30m, based on an average daily spend in region of $230 to $330.
With Jetstar initially flying three times a week (43% of daily flight capacity), spend during the initial period delivers between $8.5m and $12m – so there is every reason for the Fraser Coast to strongly support the service.
The current three-day schedule of Wednesday, Friday and Sunday flights is ideal for locals wanting to spend a long weekend in Sydney and be back for the start of the working week.