THE first JETGO flight from Melbourne was met with fanfare at Port Macquarie Airport.
Balloons, a decorated cake and champagne marked the occasion on November 7.
Direct flights to Melbourne have long been on the community’s wishlist.
Port Macquarie-Hastings mayor Peter Besseling, Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce president Hadyn Oriti and Paul Dawson from Greater Port Macquaire Tourism were among the passengers on board the first flight.
Cr Besseling said the flight was fast, quiet and comfortable.
He said it was great to welcome JETGO to Port Macquarie.
“We know it is going to be a long-lasting relationship,” Cr Besseling said.
The flights are expected to have business and tourism spin-offs.
JETGO chief operating officer Arron Mulder said Port Macquarie was the airline’s second destination out of Melbourne.
“It is an expansion of our company’s long-term direction,” he said.
Flight bookings have been encouraging.
His message to the community is to “take the jet”.
“It’s a case of you no longer have to go through an intermediary point to get to your final destination,” Mr Mulder said.
“It is just another step in the direction of the company we founded to give the general public options that the other carriers aren’t able to provide,” he said.
He said they hoped to increase the flights to a daily service down the track.
Direct flights linking Port Macquarie and Melbourne’s Essendon Airport run on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
There is a free bus from Essendon Airport to the railway station, and from there, it is short trip to the Melbourne CBD.
The direct flights to Essendon Airport change the dynamics of a Melbourne trip, a business leader says.
Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce president Hadyn Oriti said there was an exciting opportunity ahead.
He said the next step was to work with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, destination marketing and Essendon Fields to raise Port Macquarie in the minds of Victorians.
Mr Oriti said we would only kick goals if Melburnians were flying to Port Macquarie as well.
Meanwhile, leaders from the council, business and tourism have met with Essendon Fields and JETGO representatives in Melbourne.
Cr Besseling said the talks were very productive.
Greater Port Macquarie Tourism representative Paul Dawson said the tourism opportunities were massive.
He recognises the potential for the tourism sector to produce getaways to attract Victorians here.