Low fares leader Jetstar has delivered another windfall for northern NSW tourism with the re-introduction of direct low-fare Melbourne services to Ballina Byron Gateway Airport timed to commence pre-Christmas.

From 21 December 2010, Jetstar will operate three times weekly Melbourne-Ballina Byron A320 services on a year-round basis and offer the region its only direct interstate flight.

This new growth follows Jetstar’s recently announced expansion of Sydney-Ballina Byron flying by five more weekly flights to double daily (14 times weekly commencing 2 December) and represents a new high-water mark for Jetstar, offering over 300,000 annual seats for the first time in this market.

Jetstar group chief executive officer Bruce Buchanan said the decision to re-introduce a direct Melbourne service alongside growing Sydney frequencies to Ballina/Byron Bay reflected a renewed confidence in the market and a response to strong regional community and tourism industry support for an interstate air link.

“Jetstar is providing a unique and direct low-fare access from Melbourne literally to the doorstep of the world-renowned and unique tourism offering of Byron Bay, Ballina and the Tweed Coast – with the new flying in place for the summer holiday peak,” Mr Buchanan said.

“These new low-fare flights will appeal to domestic and international customers as Ballina Byron Airport is the closest gateway to Byron Bay and its surrounds.

“We continue to forge a genuine partnership in growth with the Ballina/Byron and Tweed Coast region by delivering more low-fare and hassle-free flying, with Jetstar now its largest airline operation.”

To celebrate its new Melbourne-Ballina Byron service, Jetstar is offering special one-way web fares from $39 for a limited time. Conditions apply, visit Jetstar.com.

Jetstar’s every-day one-way fares start from $79 Sydney-Ballina Byron and $89 Melbourne-Ballina Byron

Jetstar earlier this year also launched the Jetstar Customer Guarantee. As part of its continued focus on innovation for customer benefit, the airline recently introduced first-time Self-Check Kiosk technology at Ballina Byron Bay Airport.

Mayor of Ballina Shire Council Cr Phil Silver welcomed the return of a direct Melbourne service by Jetstar.

“This announcement is a great shot in the arm for our region and our collective response will be overwhelmingly positive – to make these services work and strongly support this growth,” Cr Silver said.

“Recent community engagement with Ballina Shire residents reported heightened interest in a regular Melbourne service to our airport. Jetstar’s future expansion will provide our people with more travel choice and allow our tourism industry to continue to confidently target the key Victorian market.”

Ballina Byron Airport is situated five minutes from Ballina and less than 30 minutes from Byron Bay.