Canberrans will be able to fly directly to another beach getaway over summer, with FlyPelican opening a route to Port Macquarie from November 1.
The airline will fly direct twice a week from Canberra Airport. It is the first time that Canberrans can fly direct Port Macquarie and follows a new route to Hobart, which was announced earlier this week.
Fares will start at $149 one-way.
The airline adds the Port Macquarie route to its recently-announced Canberra-Ballina route. Both are a gateway to Byron Bay and northern New South Wales.
The easing of COVID-19 restrictions means Canberrans can now travel to Queensland or South Australia without needing to go into quarantine on arrival or return.
It is hoped the Tasmanian government will allow entry from December, while access to the mid-north NSW coast will give travel-starved families another option.
The new route also marks a massive turnaround in business for the airport, which was forced to shut on Saturdays because of a lack of passengers.
Canberra Airport head of aviation Michael Thomson said: "Fly Pelican has been a long-time partner of Canberra Airport and after the recent success with the Canberra to Ballina-Byron route, we are sure to see similar results again with Canberra to Port Macquarie".
"We are seeing a very positive return of aviation with flights increasing from 34 two weeks ago to 66 this week and, with more flights and more destinations on offer like Port Macquarie, we are confident this will continue, bringing more people to our region and providing more opportunity for Canberrans to travel."
As border restrictions are being eased, new routes are opening up. Qantas has resumed flights from Canberra to Adelaide on four days a week. Virgin Australia is to resume flights to the South Australian capital on October 12.
Qantas has also taken over some routes to the Gold Coast which were previously flown by Virgin.
The airport's strategy now is to seek out smaller airports and bypass Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane if necessary.
The other arm of the strategy is to secure partnerships with small airlines as Qantas and Virgin go through the ructions of dealing with a catastrophic drop in traffic.
Another regional airline, Alliance Airlines based in Brisbane, will begin a twice-weekly service to the Sunshine Coast and Cairns from October 23, now that Queensland has opened its borders.
On Saturday, Canberra Airport resumes seven day operation after cutting back services at weekends.
Chief Executive Stephen Byron was talking of "putting the airport to sleep" when fewer than a hundred passengers a day were flying daily in and out of the terminal, which has a capacity of 22,000 people each day.
In the event, border re-openings have led to an expansion of the number of routes, though to nothing like pre-COVID-19 passenger numbers.
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