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From Newcastle to Melbourne: Jetstar continues to soar

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The Bonza experiment might have fallen over in spectacular fashion but it’s a different story for Jetstar in the Hunter.

The airline carrier celebrated 20 years at the weekend since its first flight took off from Newcastle Airport to Melbourne, revolutionising travel in Australia.

And, to mark the milestone, Jetstar recreated its inaugural trip on Saturday, with several of the same original pilots, cabin crew and customers on board. 

On 25 May 2004, the game-changing flight not only made air travel more accessible to the people of the nation, but also strengthened the bond between the local community and Melbourne.

“We are immensely proud to have been part of Jetstar’s journey from the very beginning, witnessing their growth and success firsthand,” Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock said.

“They’ve played a crucial role in fulfilling our vision of being the airport the Hunter deserves, enhancing the travel experience for all. 

“Our partnership with Jetstar has been instrumental in boosting connectivity, promoting tourism and driving economic growth in our region.

“We look forward to many more years of successful collaboration.” 

Jetstar captain Jeff Bray, who operated the maiden flight, was on board again.

“While every flight is important, Saturday’s service is particularly special for the team,” he said.

“It’s a moment to reunite with other long-serving colleagues who I started out with on 25 May 2004, as well as some of the same customers who were on board back then.

“We’ve always carried first-time flyers and that’s what makes Jetstar unique, we’re providing low fares so more people can afford to fly.” 

Over the past two decades, Newcastle Airport and Jetstar have worked closely to expand route options, improve services and ensure that air travel remains convenient and affordable for all passengers.

Together, they’ve welcomed millions of travellers, providing them with seamless access to four destinations including Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Cairns.

Starting with a fleet of 14 aircraft in 2004 flying only along Australia’s east coast, Jetstar has grown into one of the biggest and most successful low-cost carriers in the Asia Pacific, operating across nearly 150 domestic and international routes. 

The airline’s launch in 2004 was one of the most successful in the world, with 100,000 fares sold in the first day. 

Since then, Jetstar has flown more than 400 million customers, with more than half flying for less than $100.

In 2023, the airline sold in excess of 12 million fares for less than $100 and is on track to exceed that figure this year.  

To further acknowledge this important occasion, Jetstar is offering one-way fares between Newcastle and Melbourne from just $49 at jetstar.com.  

Group CEO Stephanie Tully and Melbourne Airport’s CEO Lorie Argus welcomed the arrival of JQ471 from Newcastle.

“We’ve transformed the way Australians travel,” the former said.

“Before we launched 20 years ago, many families’ only option was packing up the car and hitting the road.

“Our low fares meant they could afford to instead jump on a plane and head off to the Gold Coast, Bali or elsewhere for their holiday. 

“As we welcome new aircraft into our fleet and add more destinations to our network, we’re excited about the next 20 years and a new era of low-cost travel in Australia.”

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