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Qantas is launching flights to Byron Bay and Orange as part of a bid to kickstart the airline's recovery and revive local tourism

Sharon Masige
  • Qantas is launching new flight routes to Byron Bay and Orange.
  • The new routes are intended to boost tourism in those areas, mitigating some of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as aid the airline's recovery.
  • The move comes as part of Qantas and Jetstar's plan to return to 40% of pre-coronavirus capacity in July.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Qantas is opening two new flight routes as part of a bid to help revive local tourism in New South Wales, and resurrect the airline's fortunes.

For the first time in 15 years, the airline is bringing back its Sydney to Byron Bay (Ballina) flights – which kick off on July 1. And, on July 20, it will start its first-ever flights to Orange.

The move comes as Qantas and its cheaper service Jetstar aim to boost tourism recovery, after the pandemic put the industry at a near stand-still. These flight routes were
in fact set to begin earlier in the year, but were delayed due to coronavirus restrictions.

Both airlines are slowly increasing domestic flights, aiming to get up to 40% of pre-COVID capacity levels in July.

QantasLink CEO John Gissing said in a statement the airline has a key role to play in "driving tourism and reviving the industry that has been devastated by COVID-19."

"These additional flights are coming at the right time for families who’ve spent much of the recent months confined to their homes and are looking forward to getting out and exploring their own State," he said.

Gissing added that Byron Bay continues to be a popular holiday destination, even becoming "one of the most in demand destinations" for both airlines over the past month.

Sydneysiders will now have an easier way to travel to Orange.

"After years of locals calling for the flying kangaroo to fly to Orange, the iconic red tail will touch down there for the first time in a few weeks," he said. "We are bringing much needed competition to the route, which has been a monopoly for many years."

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the new flights will provide a "lifeline for local communities".

QantasLink will provide daily flights between Sydney and Byron Bay on its Q400 planes. There will be three weekly return flights on the Sydney to Orange route using Q200 planes. And more flights are expected later this year.

These are part of a raft of flight routes Qantas plans to reopen after putting them on hold during the pandemic. These include the Adelaide to Melbourne, Moree to Sydney, Melbourne to Newcastle and Brisbane to Cairns and Townsville flights.

The additional flights come after Qantas announced it would cut around 6000 jobs, as the coronavirus pandemic shattered the travel industry.

"This is something that weighs heavily on all of us," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement at the time. "But the collapse of billions of dollars in revenue leaves us little choice if we are to save as many jobs as possible, long term."

While Qantas continues to ramp up its domestic flights, international flights still seem like they'll be a while away yet.