Orange Airport was enjoying peak hour on Monday morning.
A Fly Corporate plane arrived from Brisbane and was quickly joined on the tarmac by a Rex Airlines flight from Sydney.
A charter flight taking Bathurst 1000 racegoers back to Queensland was boarding while a second Rex plane was undergoing maintenance.
By the time I joined the Air Corporate flight for the first direct commercial flight from Orange to Melbourne the first Rex flight was being prepared for the next flight to Sydney.
Later in the day when the Melbourne flight returned and was being prepared to return to Brisbane it was joined by a second Fly Corporate plane.
The first plane’s load was too heavy for one plane so the second was needed to carry the luggage.
Air travel is now a serious player in Orange.
Rex provides up to four flights a day to Sydney and Fly Corporate has several trips a week to Brisbane and Melbourne.
Business people, mining workers and work-related travellers make up a key component of all the flight loads but there are plenty of people using air travel for pleasure, holidays, transfers for international trips, medical appointments, sporting events, seeing family interstate and other reasons.
Orange’s location has made it a hub.
Flights are not restricted by the limitations the railways suffer of being restricted by winding track laid more than 100 years ago.
The airlines, and all those people in Orange, who pushed for the links to be created and the airport to be expanded to cope with the demands, should be applauded.
Direct flights to Melbourne now put the home of AFL football, the spring horse racing carnival, the head offices of key companies and major medical and university venues within the reach of Orange people.
The flights take 100 minutes, the first flight was smooth, reasonably reliable and had passengers landing within 10km, and a $40-$45 cab fare of the centre of Melbourne.
For sure, air travel’s biggest restriction is its cost, it’s not for everyone.
With prices starting from $259 one way it is always going to be cheaper for the average family to drive to Melbourne or Brisbane.
Buses and trains are good options for travel to Sydney.
Even with accommodation costs and the time spent driving all day the airlines cannot compete on cost.
However, the Orange economy stands to gain if business people from the capital cities can get here quicker and tourists with cash to spend can come to town for our wine, food and tourism attractions.
The airlines will appeal to people seeking a special trip away to attend sporting events in Melbourne.
And it has some great shopping in the arcades and lanes of the CBD.
In fact, you don’t need to go too far from the airport.
Next door to Essendon Airport is one of the largest DFO [Direct Factory Outlets] complexes in the country.
It has many brands not available in Orange.
The first Hyatt Place hotel in Australia is over the road from the airport providing a convenient place to stay.
Flight may not be affordable to all but there are plenty of opportunities to make it work for Orange.
- The writer travelled courtesy of Fly Corporate