Firsts are usually always good. Think Edmund Hillary, Neil Armstrong, and Julia Gillard. Flying Alliance Airlines’ inaugural Brisbane-Whitsundays service mightn’t seem quite as momentous but as it was my first flight post-lockdown, it was ‘up there’ as a travel experience.
Flying four times a week Alliance Airlines transports you in one hour and forty-five minutes to paradise. Since the arrival of the pandemic, it’s one of the first new services to arrive at Whitsundays Airport. We took off at 6.35 after a very efficient check-in and bag drop-off in a still quiet Brisbane airport.
Up, Up and Away
The snaking Brisbane river let the dawning sky take all the credit for a spectacular mid-winter morning. We’re soon flying north towards those warm Whitsundays breezes. Seating is in a two-three configuration allowing me a window seat and a spare seat between the aisle passenger.
Alliance Airlines National Charter Sales Manager, Alex Ananian-Cooper later told me at Whitsundays Airport that, where loads permit they “will keep that empty seat available on a flight”.
With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, we are served bottled water only. As restrictions ease refreshments will become part of the service.
Alliance Airlines is well-known in the FIFO market for connecting skilled workers with remote regional towns. The Alliance Fokker fleet is 40-strong with Fokker 50 turboprops, Fokker 70 LR jets, and Fokker 100 jets. This new service connecting the Queensland capital with the popular tropical holiday destination flies Fokker jets.
Queensland’s Palaszczuk Government is working in partnership with Alliance Airlines to support the region’s tourism operators after Covid-19.
The flight heads inland towards the Great Dividing Range before making a line to the Coast. After 893 km, that unmistakable Whitsundays view sparkles as we come into land. We arrive on time at the newly refurbished Whitsunday Coast Airport and are greeted with a rainbow courtesy of a two fire engine water cannon salute. There is a round of applause and as we disembark a throng of waiting media welcome us to the heart of the reef.
… the Destination
There’s more fanfare, delicious breakfast pastries and tropical fruit cocktails as the press conference starts. The new additions to the airport include a colourful reef aquarium and an interactive digital screen complete with both Australian bush and marine life. Yes, you can pat the dingoes and get up close with a turtle.
Whitsundays Coast Airport is the first Australian airport to include a Welcome to Country. The traditional custodians of the land (the Ngaro and Gia) offer visitors spiritual safekeeping. It also honours the tradition of an ancient, living First Nations culture respected in a spirit of reconciliation and harmony.
What a wonderful, warm Whitsundays welcome before a few action-packed days exploring Airlie Beach, the islands and reef by hot-rod, luxury catamaran and Thundercat. Watch this space.
Alliance Airlines flies to the Whitsundays from Brisbane on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays with fares starting from $99 one way with a 20kg baggage allowance. Check the website for flight times.
Disclaimer: This Magnificent Life was a guest of Alliance Airlines and Tourism Whitsundays.