An engineer with an essential worker exemption has become the first person to fly into Orange from coronavirus-stricken Melbourne after strict travel restrictions were introduced last Friday.
On Tuesday afternoon Yashdeep Kumar was the only passenger on Fly Corporate's first flight from Melbourne to Orange since the ban.
The state government has ruled all passengers from Melbourne, except those with exemptions, have to fly into Sydney.
Mr Kumar, who will take up work at PJL Group, was checked by NSW Health officials at Orange Regional Airport where he had to show his exemption permit. He then took a taxi to accommodation in Orange where he will self-isolate for 14 days.
Mr Kumar said it was strange being the only passenger on the flight.
"It was really good. I was surprised that they are flying. I am grateful they flew me here," he said.
Mr Kumar said he had already been in self-isolation after arriving in Melbourne.
He said the health workers had told him he would be tested for coronavirus on the 10th day of isolation.
The only passenger waiting to fly out of Orange on the plane was Ben Webb of Cowra. Mr Webb said he was flying to Tamworth to collect a car.
As he is travelling within NSW he does not need to undergo the coronavirus restrictions. "I hope they clean the plane," he said.
Fly Corporate airline services manager Jeff Boyd said the state government had given them approval to fly people with exemptions into Orange from Melbourne.
Mr Boyd said it would normally be uneconomic to fly just one person however the airline was receiving funding from the federal government to keep the service operating.
He said there was a "whole raft" of people deemed essential workers needing to fly into regional areas.
Mr Boyd said the state government rules had deemed they include doctors, allied health workers, mining engineers and other essential workers.
The flight was also one of the last under the Fly Corporate name. The company announced on Tuesday it was re-branding to become Link Airways.
CEO Andrew Major said the company was pleased it could retain the vital flights to regional airports.
"This program provides critical connectivity for essential travellers and freight. We look forward to increasing the frequency of flights in due course," he said.
"This will however be governed by the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated state border restrictions."
He said safety measures for passengers and staff including temperature testing at check-in and compulsory wearing of face masks were being conducted.