Airport numbers increase

BALLINA Byron Gateway Airport had 343,581 people get on and off aircraft in the 12-month period ending on November 24, 2012.

This beats the previous 12-month best of 327,705 for the period ending June 30, 2012, and passenger numbers increased by 12 per cent compared with the period ending November 2011.

Airport manager Neil Weatherson said this was "a great result for the airport and bodes well for a strong year with passenger numbers expected to top 360,000 by the end of June".

While many passengers arriving at Ballina airport head to Byron Bay, Tourism Research Australia, in its Regional Tourism Profiles for 2011/12, ranked Ballina third in the Northern Rivers region for both domestic overnight visitors and international visitors.

Ballina Shire Council's tourism co-ordinator, Caroline Klose, said there also were some "surprising results for our average night stay, which has increased to four nights for domestic overnight visitors".

Mr Weatherson said there were additional services planned for the Sydney route to start in April.

"This growth will provide four daily jet services to Sydney, three daily Rex services to Sydney and two to Newcastle, and three weekly jet services to Melbourne," he said.

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