The first direct flights from Bristol Airport to Florida have just started, the airport has announced.
Passengers can fly with holiday firm Tui from the North Somerset airport direct to Melbourne Orlando International Airport. Not to be confused with the Australian city, this Melbourne is a small American city around 50 miles south east of Orlando, on Florida’s Space Coast, close to the Kennedy Space Centre.
Tui is running two flights a week at the moment, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
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The new destination is the first direct flight from Bristol Airport to the US in years – direct flights to New York were dropped back in the 2010s as they were no longer economically viable.
The only other direct flight across the Atlantic from Bristol Airport is the ten-hour flight from Bristol to Cancun, the tourist destination in Mexico.
But now the new direct route from Bristol to the States is on board the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The new destination is certain to anger environmentalists, who have campaigned against the airport’s plans to expand to increase the capacity to 12 million passengers every year. Earlier this week, the Bristol Airport Action Network group won permission to challenge the Government’s decision to allow that expansion at the High Court.
One of the arguments put forward by Bristol Airport – and the one which the Mayor of Bristol repeated often in his support of the expansion plans – was that by increasing the capacity for Bristol Airport, and the range of destinations the airport, it would limit the number of people having to travel to bigger airports like Gatwick and Heathrow in London.
This, the Mayor and Bristol Airport said, would actually be more environmentally-friendly.
And the initial passenger reaction to Bristol Airport’s announcement on Facebook does back that up. One passenger : “Most definitely beats driving back from Gatwick with jet lag. I’ll be using this connection for sure,” she wrote. “Melbourne is coastal with a great beach and small town not that far from Cocoa Beach and NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre. Universal Studios is about one hour 15 minutes from Melbourne Airport and Disney’s about one hour 25.”
Another passenger said he flew on the first flight, and it was an ‘amazing experience’ on the Dreamliner.