Just before three o'clock yesterday afternoon, the human cost of COVID-19 restrictions burst into view.
Families came off the first direct flight to Canberra from the Sunshine Coast and saw the grandchildren they hadn't seen for nearly a year.
"I haven't seen her since Christmas Day last year," Teena Sweet said as she hugged 13-year-old Hannah - and hugged her again like she'd never let her go.
Ten minutes later, her eyes were still glistening with tears.
Granddaughter Hannah, who studies at St Clare's College in Canberra, just kept saying, "I'm so excited."
Gate 7 at Canberra Airport was crowded with people - and crowded with emotion.
"I haven't seen my family for ten months," Deb Kelly said. "We've been waiting for a long time," her husband, Mark, said.
They would normally come to see their children and grandchildren every three months but it would mean a trek via Sydney Airport.
Since the epidemic, border closures have deprived them of the hugs but the easing of restrictions has opened the direct route for the first time.
"It's a momentous day," the chief executive of Sunshine Coast Airport, Andrew Brodie, said.
The new flight with Alliance Airways takes two hours, with fares starting at $149 one way. It will operate twice-weekly on Monday and Friday using a 100-seat Fokker 100 jet aircraft.
Alliance chief executive Lee Schofield said: "This new service will increase tourism, business and government links between these important and growing regions."
The Canberra to Maroochydore flight continues to Cairns after a short lay-over in the Sunshine Coast airport.
It's the latest in a string of new destinations as Canberra Airport seeks routes to make up for the collapse in the market.
It's done deals with smaller airlines flying smaller aircraft to smaller regional airports. The airport is now operating at 15 per cent of normal capacity, up from two per cent at the worst period of the lockdown.
Canberra Airport's head of aviation, Michael Thomson, pitched the flights as offering a new destination for holiday-makers as summer approaches - both Queenslanders looking for a city-break and Canberrans seeking sun.
But other destinations are on Canberra's radar, too, including New Zealand.
"We are working hard to develop the opportunity for Australians to travel quarantine-free to New Zealand," Mr Thomson said.
He pins his hopes on New Zealand's need for tourist dollars.
"It stands to reason that they will need to get access to relatively COVID-safe markets and Australia, and Canberra in particular satisfies that requirement."
As well as Alliance flights to the Sunshine Coast and Cairns, Qantas and Virgin fly to Brisbane and the Gold Coast from Canberra.
Link is to start flights to Hobart on November 5 and to Newcastle on November 20. Pelican will fly to Port Macquarie from November 1.