IT has been a long time in the works but Port Macquarie will finally have its own homegrown airline, transporting locals to destinations such as the world-heritage listed Lord Howe Island.
Eastern Air Services has been approved to fly a passenger service by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The team at Eastern Air Services based at Port Macquarie Airport have been working on the airline for three years.
Eastern Air Services CEO Christian Corse said it was an "exciting" moment for the company.
"It has been years of research, to pick the right aeroplane, to write operating manuals, it has been years of hard slog," he said.
The first route selected will be Port Macquarie to Lord Howe Island, a journey little over an hour.
Eastern Air Services has already been operating a charter service to Lord Howe Island for the last two years, as well as a weekly freight service.
The smaller aircraft operated by Eastern Air Services is more flexible than other commercial aircraft in terms of weather and based on current trends the service has a better arrival success rate.
It is something we are passionate about joining Port Macquarie to Lord Howe Island.Christian Corse
Lord Howe Island and Port Macquarie have a long-standing connection through trade.
"Port Macquarie and Lord Howe Island have always had strong ties," he said.
"It is something we are passionate about joining Port Macquarie to Lord Howe Island."
Qantas have in the past offered a Port Macquarie to Lord Howe Island route but a spokesperson confirmed "Qantas hasn't operated such a service for several years, we fly to Lord Howe from Brisbane and Sydney only".
Mr Corse believes the route is viable all year round.
He said while the island shuts down for three months of the year during winter it is serviced by tradespeople from Port Macquarie and surrounding areas during that time.
Links between Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, Gold Coast and Newcastle are also in the pipeline for Eastern Air Services.
The Gold Coast and Newcastle offers a lot of international markets.Christian Corse
And mainland routes such as Port Macquarie to Newcastle and Port Macquarie to the Gold Coast are also being considered.
"The Gold Coast and Newcastle offer a lot of international markets," said Mr Corse.
"To do mainland flights (Newcastle and Gold Coast) though we would need to purchase a bigger aeroplane, a 19-seater," Mr Corse said.
Mr Corse's plan is to slowly build the business.
"We want to operate a reliable, constant service, 365 days of the year," he said.
Good News for Port Macquarie
NSW Business Chamber Mid North Coast Regional Manager Kellon Beard welcomed the news of a new airline service for Port Macquarie.
"It is particularly good news as we have just completed the first stage upgrade to the airport terminal," he said.
"In our Business Conditions survey, we highlighted that the business conditions on the Mid-North Coast are weak, but as tourism is one of our main employers, anything that can bring tourists to the town is welcome."
Added to that, TV screens in the headrests for each passenger will show advertising from Port Macquarie tourism operators.
Kellon Beard urged the community to support the new venture.
"Port Macquarie has had other airlines withdraw services due to lack of demand in the past, so the business and local community needs to support this initiative by Eastern Air Services to ensure it is successful," he said.
Mr Corse acknowledges many promising small airlines have folded.
"I'd say chances of success are slim if you try and go too big too quick. Small steps," he said.
As for safety, Mr Corse said he takes nothing for granted.
"I am the chief engineer, when it comes to maintenance you can't spare any expense," he said.
"Self preservation is a funny thing, I am sitting on the aeroplane every time and I make sure it is right."
Lord Howe Island welcome the news of an airline
Lord Howe Island is a magnet for tourists enticed by its sandy, unspoilt beaches, subtropical forests and native wildlife.
It showcases some of the world's rarest and most spectacular wildlife.
The majestic island is the remains of a nearly seven million year old extinct volcano.
They are committed to us and that makes a difference as we have had other services that have not been.Jane Shead
There is no mobile phone reception on the island, something the 400-odd locals embrace.
Steve Coram from Kendall works a couple of months of the year at Lord Howe Island as an electrician.
"There is no stress and no haste, nobody appears to be in a hurry, we call it island time," he said.
Mr Coram said the airline is a "game-changer".
"We can leave Port Macquarie in the morning and be on the job by smoko."
"It saves us money and time and we use their freight service as well."
Kempsey resident Simone Kennett who has flown in the past on an Eastern Air Services charter flight to Port Macquarie spoke glowingly about the service.
"We love the airline and love Lord Howe," she said.
"The whole place is just beautiful, all the features, the ocean life, the surrounds, the greenery," she said.
And those on the island are celebrating news of a passenger service.
Lord Howe Island tourism/accommodation operator Jane Shead said Eastern Air Services has been a welcome addition.
"We use their freight service, and they come rain, hail or shine," she said.
"They are committed to us and that makes a difference as we have had other services that have not been."
Editor's note: Carla Mascarenhas was flown to Lord Howe Island by Eastern Air Services for the story.