REGIONAL airline FlyPelican landed its first direct flight from Canberra to Ballina on Friday.

The Newcastle-based airline operates a fleet of 19-seat British Aerospace Jetstream 32 aircraft.

The direct Ballina-Canberra return service operates three times a week.

Ballina Byron Gateway Airport general manager Julie Stewart welcomed the new service.

“It’s a very exciting day for us,” she said.

“Canberra residents have been looking for flights to a location that is warm, and coastal for their vacation, but also we see local businesses that need to have connections with Canberra.

“For Northern Rivers residents, it’s an opportunity to visit the NSW South Coast and even the sky fields.

“I think it’s an important connection for us to have with the nation’s capital,” she said.

From this week, FlyPelican offers services from Ballina to Newcastle, Sydney via Newcastle, Sydney direct and the new Canberra direct flight.

FlyPelican, Rex, Jetstar and QantasLink currently operate from the Ballina airport, with Virgin confirming it will restart Northern Rivers services from early August.