Commercial flights between Newcastle and Melbourne will be suspended from next week in the wake of the NSW-Victoria border closure sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Newcastle Airport chief says.
While the airport eyes a hold on the route between the Hunter and the southern state, the re-opening of the NSW-Queensland border this week meant the Williamtown travel hub on Friday had its busiest day in three months.
Flights from Newcastle to Brisbane and the Gold Coast resumed, as planes from Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport continued.
A flight from Melbourne arrived at Williamtown mid-afternoon on Friday and one departed for Tullamarine in the evening - the same is scheduled to happen on Saturday.
The NSW-Victoria border was closed on Wednesday as a spike in coronavirus cases in Mebourne led to the greater metropolitan area being locked down for at least six weeks.
Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock said on Friday flights between Newcastle and Melbourne would be temporarily suspended from July 16.
When asked why flights were continuing to take place after the border closure, Dr Cock said anecdotal evidence suggested most traffic between the cities consisted of people trying to return home.
"All passengers incoming into NTL [Newcastle Airport] are comprehensively screened by NSW Health officials and NSW Police," he said.
"Each will have their addresses checked to ensure no unnecessary travel is undertaken into NSW during the lock down period."
While Jetstar and Qantas restarted routes between Newcastle and Queensland on Friday, Virgin was also expected to resume flights between the Hunter and Brisbane on Saturday.
Dr Cock said services would initially be scheduled for four-to-five times a week but he hoped flights to Queensland destinations would become daily.
He said health and safety was the airport's number one priority.
"We have implemented multiple initiatives to ensure appropriate health and hygiene standards at the airport," he said.
"This has resulted in Newcastle Airport being accredited as a COVID-safe business through the NSW government safe business scheme.
"We have also implemented the aviation industry protocols endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
"What's important for us as an airport is to ensure we are doing the little things that matter to help ensure every passenger feels as safe as possible on their journey. That commitment will never change."
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