First flight from Wellcamp to Melbourne a surprise for Alma
UPDATE: For 85-year-old Alma Williams, her first flight out of Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport was worth the wait.
A Toowoomba local, Mrs Williams was born at Athol and grew up at Apple Glen dairy farm in Coopers Rd, one of the airport's neighbouring properties.
The great-grandmother has watched the airport grow from a patch of land to a busy multi-destination hub for the Darling Downs, and today she stepped on the tarmac for the first time.
"It is absolutely amazing this airport has been build next to our farm, I've always admired the Wagners," she said.
Mrs Williams, who moved to the area in the early 1950s, joined 75 other passengers on Airnorth's first ever passenger jet service between Toowoomba and Melbourne, marking her 85th birthday and one for the photo album.
Her family surprised her with a ticket to Melbourne, celebrating the day at 34,000 feet.
Travellers, business people and excited family members watched as the first Airnorth flight took off this morning, bound for Melbourne.
Airport developer John Wagner said he was delighted to celebrate the first flight to Melbourne with Mrs Williams.
"We have had so much support from the local community and to celebrate this special milestone with Alma is just fantastic," he said.
Mr Wagner said he was also extremely proud to supply the infrastructure that would enable new services to happen.
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Airnorth CEO Daniel Bowden joined the excitement, saying ticket sales were already in the thousands.
"Efficient air travel will attract people to Toowoomba, one of the most dynamic growth areas in the country, and give the region easy access to its growing international markets," he said.
The new services include seven weekly return flights from Toowoomba to Melbourne and three weekly return flights from Toowoomba to Cairns.
EARLIER: The first direct flight from Toowoomba to Melbourne boarded at 7am this morning.
Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport is now offering seven weekly return flights to Melbourne as well as three return flights to Cairns.
Both routes will use 76-seat Embraer E170 aircraft.
Regional Airline Airnorth has worked with Wellcamp to establish the flights, which will operate as full service flights in a modern 76 seat Embraer 170 jet.
The flights mean residents can travel to Melbourne in the same time they would take to drive to Brisbane Airport in the past.
The Melbourne and Cairns routes are expected to be as popular as the initial Sydney service, which started about a year ago.