DIRECT flights between Newcastle and Canberra will resume next week in a move that has boosted the mood of Hunter business and tourism groups.
FlyPelican, a new airline formed by some of those behind the Aeropelican service which used to operate out of Belmont, will also run daily flights between Newcastle and Sydney.
It’s a major vote of confidence in Newcastle Airport and the Hunter market which has been without a Canberra service since Brindabella folded in 2013.
FlyPelican chief executive Paul Graham confirmed on Monday the airline now holds all its regulatory licences and will begin Canberra services next Monday, June 1, and start Sydney services on June 11.
‘‘FlyPelican is extremely pleased to be providing this important service and we’re looking forward to reinstating this crucial link,’’ Mr Graham said.
‘‘Current driving times [to Canberra] can be five or six hours one way. Our flights will be just over an hour, and people will be able to return home the same day after a full day of business or pleasure.’’
Mr Graham said he was confident the route would be viable for the company, and popular among those working at the RAAF base and public servants who commute between Newcastle and the capital.
The company will fly the 19-seat Jetstream 32 aircraft on the route with the aim of carrying between 15,000 and 17,000 passengers annually.
Fares to Canberra start at $149 one way, he said, while Sydney services will cost $89 one way. Two services will go to Canberra each weekday, and two to Sydney, each with two afternoon services coming back to Newcastle. Sunday flights for both destinations will be introduced.
FlyPelican will compete with Rex airlines on the Newcastle-Sydney route.
Hunter Tourism chairman Will Creedon said the news would boost tourism in the region.
‘‘It’s fantastic to be getting a service back that we’ve sadly missed,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s always added tremendous value to the Hunter’s economy.
‘‘On one level it will make doing business between Canberra and Newcastle easier. On another level it will be great for local people who want to connect with international flights out of Sydney, while people coming into Sydney can fly directly onto Newcastle.’’