The long awaited moment has arrived! The doors have been opened and the possibilities are touted to be endless.
Griffith-Melbourne flights provided by EastWest and Sharp Airlines are now operational after close to 12 months of planning, negotiations and behind-the-scenes execution.
Stepping off the first flight was East West Airlines CEO Dallas Hay, who left Launceston at 7am in the morning and flew through King Island and Essendon to be warmly welcomed by the Griffith community.
Piloting the maiden flight were Captain Lawrence Wilmott and Adrian Catimel, who said they were blessed with a "beautiful" day for the inaugural flight.
"It was nice to land with such a big crowd giving us this warm welcome," Mr Wilmott said.
"We are very fortunate and feel privileged to be on the first crew," Mr Catimel agreed.
That warm welcome included Griffith's mayor John Dal Broi, councillor representatives, business leaders including Quest's Josh Nadzielski and community members excited to take advantage of the new service.
Malcolm Sharp, managing director of Sharp Airlines, said he was "relieved" to finally have the plane on the Griffith tarmac.
"There is so much work that has gone on behind the scenes, and so much box-ticking and making sure we do our due diligence, sorting out compliance and approvals, it is a relief to be standing here today," Mr Sharp said.
He explained passenger numbers in Griffith had increased from 30,000 to almost 75,000 in the last 20 years, meaning is all goes well, the service will be a success if the community remains committed to utilising it.
"This is a very prosperous and very much a growing area, expanding and that is what brought us here. The numbers here are on the incline and that is very positive, and something we want to be a part of."
nd yet Cr Dal Broi said the flight would also help more than just tourists and business representatives.
"The flights mean specialists like orthopedic surgeons can travel easier from St Vincent's in the city to here, so we will hopefully see those kinds of benefits too," Cr Dal Broi enthused.
Council's contribution has been free use of the terminal, no landing charges for "a couple of years", as well as promotional assistance.
"If we don't use it we'll lose it... and we've come too far and worked too hard for that," Cr Dal Broi said.
Mr Nadzielski said, looking at the size of the plane, that many of the business and wider community members would be sure to take advantage.
"This is going to be a huge asset for the region," he said.
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