Demand for flights between Dubbo and Brisbane has lifted in recent weeks but not to the extent "the business could stand on its own two feet", a carrier says.
Fly Corporate airline services manager Jeff Boyd says the company is "still very much only able to do" the flights within the federal government funding given in response to COVID-19.
The airline has been providing two services a week from Dubbo and two other regional NSW ports north to Brisbane and south to Melbourne since an agreement with the government allowed it to resume a basic service in May.
Speaking to the Daily Liberal as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened in Victoria, but before Queensland closed its borders to residents of the Greater Sydney region, Mr Boyd said while numbers through the Melbourne port were small, Brisbane was seeing some recovery.
"Yes, Dubbo-Brisbane is lifting, all our to and from Brisbane has obviously lifted since the border was reopened," he said.
Mostly, people were not travelling to Queensland for a holiday, but instead they were seeing "a bit of pent-up demand" stemming from work and health reasons, he said.
"Seems to be people travelling to visit sick relatives, that sort of thing, people going to Queensland for medical treatment they've been having to put off travelling, if it's an elective treatment, they've put it off while the border was closed," Mr Boyd said.
"So all those normal passengers that we have, there's a resurgence of those, but still on a limited scale, compared with what we'd normally have."
For that reason, Mr Boyd considered the federal government's Regional Airline Network Support program that funds minimum networks was "still essential".
The current round of the program ends in September, and the government has extended the program to December 31.
"There's no way in the world at the moment with the demand that we have that the business could stand on its own too feet, so we're still extremely grateful to the federal government for their foresight in putting the schemes in place to give people the ability to travel and give us the ability to stay in business," Mr Boyd said.
"So it's working well, and hopefully the scheme carries through and fingers crossed we taper out of the crisis as we taper out of the funding."
Mr Boyd said within the next few weeks the company would be talking to the government about how the scheme would operate between September and December.
"We don't know what that will be yet, and I guess neither does the government, while we see where we go with the virus," he said.