Aviation has taken a step up at Kangaroo Island Airport with the arrival of an Alliance Airlines VIP-configured F70 jet aircraft.
The jet was specially configured to take 48 passengers in business-class style for the National Geographic Charter, although the F70 normally carried 80 passengers in economy class.
Airport ground services staff inform The Islander that the F70 is the largest passenger jet to visit Kangaroo Island in recent times.
JETGO ERJ aircraft that also landed recently are smaller but a larger BAe146 may have landed many years ago.
A luxury private Global Express jet has landed at KI recently with a higher max and take-off weight but it was private.
Alliance Airlines general manager for SA and Victoria, Tim Wright said the jet that took off from Tasmania, landed at Kingscote on Saturday, April 14 dropping off half its passengers before continuing with the remainder to Ayers Rock.
The jet then returned on Monday later to switch over the other half of the passengers who had been in the Northern Territory before eventually flying back on Wednesday taking them all onto Cairns.
Mr Wright said this was the first time Alliance Airlines had included Kangaroo Island on its VIP tours and it was excited about future opportunities with its jet aircraft that carried up to 100 passengers.
Previously it has serviced Kangaroo Island with its 50-seat turboprop aircraft but the runway expansion meant the airport could now handle bigger jet aircraft.
“We are excited about the potential for our inbound tourism business and the expanded runway and these flights remove the inefficiencies of landing at Adelaide and then taking a second aircraft to Kangaroo Island,” Mr Wright said.
“The opportunity exists to see more interstate flights land at Kangaroo Island.”
Alliance Airlines had also partnered with SA Tourism for Tasting Australia was flying in three flights of 50 passengers this weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Kangaroo Island Council CEO Andrew Boardman said was exciting to see these larger charter aircraft coming and going from the airport and meant the facility was being used as designed.
“It’s a case of if you build it, it may very well happen and now has happened, but if you don’t build it, it can’t happen,” Mr Boardman said.
The new terminal at Kangaroo Island was due to officially open in June, which would further see the airport reach its potential, he said.
Equally excited about the bigger aircraft and new terminal are Christine and Allan Barrett from Airport Ground Services
The KI born-and-bred locals have been watching planes come and go ever since forming their company in 2008.
They have worked at the airport for 18 years, first being ground handlers for Air South Regional in 2008, then REX port agents in 2010 and now providing ground handling service for Alliance Airlines since 2011.
“We’re proud to be supporting airlines visiting Kangaroo Island,” Christine said.