The word “success” was bandied about a lot at Inverell Airport on Thursday, September 13, exactly one year since Fly Corporate’s inaugural flight from Inverell to Brisbane.
A year ago, just having flights at all was deemed a “miracle”. Now, we’ve gone beyond that, and those present at Thursday’s tree-planting, cake-cutting one-year anniversary could not stop gushing about the quality of Fly Corporate’s service, the consolidation of the Inverell-Brisbane route, the possibility of evening flights and the ultimate goal – a dream service to Sydney.
Students from Gilgai Primary School planted two trees, the first of more to come as the service continues to flourish. “It’s a legacy we thought we’d pass to the community,” said Steve Johnson, proprietor of the Inverell Terrace Motor Lodge. “Two trees per year will create an avenue for people that will keep growing.” .
A member of Inverell’s Air Service Working Group (IASWG), Mr Johnson has witnessed first-hand what the flights have meant for his hotel business.
Mr Johnson’s views are echoed by Kim Kelleher from Blair Athol Estate who has seen an “increase in visitors who come to use the spa and then shop in town.”
“People fly down for work in particular,” Mrs Kelleher said.
We have utilised the flights with our business because we have businesses in Brisbane and we access these by flying.Jane Brookman, The Brew Shed
Peter Caddey, Manager for Tourism and Marketing of Inverell Shire Council, confirms the rise in the number of visitors. “I’m certain that the arrival of the air service has helped boost the numbers,” he said. “We’ve certainly seen a correlation with the air service and other incentives we’re giving with an increase in visitation from Queensland.”
READ MORE: Fly Corporate celebrates a milestone
The tree planting was a symbolic gesture. “It reinstates how much the flights mean to Inverell. It signifies their success,” said Inverell Shire Council’s Deputy Mayor Anthony Michael, who hopes that the flights will grow with the trees. “I hope they can look to Sydney as an option.”
Sydney will come when the time is right. IASWG Chair Neil Eigeland said that the priority at the moment is strengthening the current service that has been welcomed by the local community.
“It demonstrates the popularity of the Inverell/Brisbane route. IASWG is continuing to work with Fly Corporate to improve on the already successful service and looking at potential ways to expand the service in the future,” he said.
Fly Corporate would move mountains to ensure the success of the service – and it’s not all about business either. Geoff Boyd, Fly Corporate Manager of Regular Public Transport, was not present at the anniversary celebration but he shared the celebratory sentiment.
“Inverell is a great community and one of the most welcoming. We have received encouragement that we’ve never experienced before and success isn’t just measured by ‘hard-core business’ factors,” he said.
Though the flights were currently “breaking even” they made business sense. “We are carrying at least 30 to 40 per cent more passengers than when we first started,” he said, pointing to growth, and even the potential of Sydney flights if there is another 15 per cent boost to current passenger numbers.
“Success” in aviation isn’t just about dollars or expansion either, and Mr Boyd pointed to the incredible relations that Fly Corporate has with the IASWG and Inverell Shire Council, that agreed to waiver landing fees to make the venture all the more viable.
The real winners are the passengers themselves. People like Sue and Scott Urquhart, who go to Brisbane every so often for medical reasons. At the airport this morning, Scott remembered the painful medical journeys he once made to Brisbane. “These flights save me from being in a car on a bumpy road for six hours. I have arthritis and it is painful to drive,” Scott said as he waited for the plane.
Scott Gibson and his partner arrived to welcoming cheers and a piece of cake. They came for a funeral and were happy, under the circumstances, to make the trip in just 48 minutes.
“The flights are great for people. They can come quicker and don’t need to drive when they are upset,” said Beth Gibson, Scott’s mum, born and bred in Inverell but currently living near Byron Bay.
YOUR CHANCE TO WIN
To celebrate with the local community Fly Corporate and Inverell Shire Council are offering the chance to win two prizes of two return tickets from Inverell to Brisbane via a Facebook competition. All details can be found on the Tourism Inverell Facebook page.
The winners will be announced at the Sapphire City Festival Finale on October 27 in Campbell Park.
Fly Corporate’s fleet is comprised of several 34 passenger seat Saab 340B Plus and 19 passenger seat Metro 23 turbo-prop aircraft.fy Ticket prices start at $179.