THE FIRST Tamworth to Melbourne flights have taken off from the city's airport this week.
The flights arrive and leave Tamworth airport on Mondays and Thursdays, and are operated by regional Australian airline Fly Corporate.
The "milk-run" route flight time is about two hours.
It takes off from Brisbane, flies directly to Tamworth and makes a quick stop in Dubbo and then Orange before landing in the Victorian capital.
"It's wonderful to be back flying and having the staff back at work and carrying passengers and doing what we do," he told the Leader on Thursday.
The carrier was able to get back to business after the company struck a deal with the federal government for a grant, designed to maintain regional connections and carry essential personnel and freight.
Social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic mean the 34-seat aircraft can only carry 16 passengers at a time, so no one is sitting next to anyone else.
Mr Boyd said the flight was at capacity leaving Brisbane on Thursday morning, en route to Tamworth.
He said Tamworth residents have been a little slower on the uptake of flights but come next week, local bookings look to be picking up.
"It's a matter of getting the word out that people can still fly and there are services that exist and that they can utilise," he said.
Mr Boyd said when border restrictions ease back, there will be more traffic and the market will open up.
The flights are able to take off because of a federal government scheme to underwrite services to regional Australia, but the arrangement is only set to last six months.
However, Mr Boyd said the airline would consider keeping the flights up if they prove popular.
"Depending on the interest, we'd certainly take a look at it," he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the aviation industry. QantasLink was forced to cut flights to twice per week from Tamworth to Sydney, and Virgin Australia grounded all flights in and out of the city.
Fly Corporate also launched a triangulated route through Armidale this week, where the flight takes off from Brisbane, to Coffs Harbour, to Armidale and then back to Brisbane.