Tamworth travel plans are essentially up in the air again with coronavirus-enforced border restrictions changing by the hour.
Link Airways boss Jeff Boyd outlined plans to increase flights to and from Tamworth from February, but now will wait and watch the industry.
"We are sticking with the schedule as it is, but are hoping to have some additional flights ... but we will monitor the situation and add flights as hopefully the demand increases," he told the Leader.
"But I doubt we'll be getting many passengers from Brisbane for a while now."
On Friday morning, it was announced the Queensland-NSW border will remain open despite Brisbane heading into lockdown after an dangerous overseas strain of the virus was detected.
Returned travellers from affected areas in Queensland are now required to isolate in NSW. It's another bump in the road for operators like Mr Boyd, who had finally seen booking numbers pick up across the holiday period.
"Family, friends, holiday makers - they were all out and about over Christmas and New Year," he said.
"Before the latest outbreak the numbers looked really nice, it was a good end to 2021.
"But obviously with the cases all around Sydney and the closure of the Sydney area to the whole of QLD, even though that hasn't directly affected us it has had a flow on effect with the whole mood increasing in people wanting to stay at home."
He said normally at the end of January to beginning of February, the former Fly Corporate company would see the uptick in business passengers, but now even that is uncertain.
"With all the border decisions being made [on Friday] I doubt that will be the case this year. We really need to see mums and dads flying twice-a-year to make up for that loss."
In the private charter arena, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a blessing and a curse for Ben Wyndham, head of Airspeed Aviation. He's lost some key clientele as their contracts dropped off amid the stand-downs.
He's also managed to hire four pilots from Tamworth from now departed airlines, including a previous cadet from Virgin Airlines and a Qantas Boeing 787 pilot.
"We found that the border closures have been both an up and down for us. It meant people needed to go to QLD or Victoria in a hurry, so there has been a few extra jobs there," Mr Wyndham said.
"But it's also meant that people who previously worked interstate were unable to do so. Some clients have lost contracts and our work has dropped off."
The upside, he said, flight training has been significantly busier. His employee numbers have doubled since the start of the year in their continued expansion in Tamworth.
Mr Wyndham hoped the coming year would bring some positives amid the unfolding border chaos, especially in light of new initiatives like the Narrabri Gas Project.
"I think agriculture and other industries in Tamworth are performing well. The downturn in mining doesn't seem to be affecting the Tamworth and North West area like it seems to be the Hunter Valley, and long may that continue."