Paradise Seaplanes is finally back flying after COVID 19 restrictions shut down the tourism industry on the Sunshine Coast.
The company has its COVID SAFE PLAN and COVID CLEAN certification, has trained staff and reorganised procedures. The aircraft has had its back-to-service inspection and all the staff are keen to go.
"She's a rugged beauty," says Shawn Kelly affectionately of Willy, the Wilga 80 Seaplane. "She takes 3 passengers only so we are within maximum number restrictions for venues, activities and attractions.
Paradise Seaplanes operates outdoors from Maroochy River with small groups, so there are no problems with social-distancing, bottlenecks or queues to access the aircraft.
The aircraft also boasts that customers can opt to fly "Doors Off".
"Some like doors on, some like doors off. They are two totally different experiences," said Shawn Kelly, owner and chief pilot.
"Our biggest change with COVID-19 is not being able to fill seats with people from outside an household."
"We have a minimum of 2 fares per flight and it gets difficult when someone has a gift certificate or wants to purchase a flight for one person only. Usually we would add them to a flight to make up the 3 seats, but now we have to encourage them to purchase 2 fares or wait until restrictions lift."
Shawn Kelly, like other tourism operators on the Sunshine Coast, has been financially and emotionally impacted by the shutdown.
"It is SO good to be flying again," he said.
The company has a good amount of flights scheduled this weekend including an engagement (fingers crossed), a kid's birthday flight, best girlfriend flight and lots of couples celebrating making it through the lockdown.
"It's been a good first day back, with lots of locals stopping by to say they are so glad we are back," said Mr Kelly. "That has been very heart-warming. I love the Sunshine Coast!"