Qantas will launch flights from Sydney to Merimbula for the first time starting from December 18.

The Australian carrier will operate four direct flights per week with its 50-seat Q300 turboprop aircraft. The airline says it will add more flights “if there is strong demand”.

“With border restrictions fuelling demand for intra-state travel, we see a big opportunity to bring more tourists to Merimbula,” said QantasLink CEO John Gissing.

“This will be the first time that the flying kangaroo has flown to the Sapphire Coast, which will mean more competitive fares on a route that has been a monopoly for decades.

“We have a long history of serving regional Australia and we’re pleased to be able to support new routes where we see there is demand. It will also help us to get more of our people back to work,” Gissing added.

Qantas launched two other intra-NSW routes in July, Sydney-Orange and for the first time in 15 years, Sydney-Byron Bay (Ballina). Since then, flights to Byron Bay have increased from one per day to up to four per day to meet demand, says the carrier.

The airline says it is launching a three-day sale with fares available from $149 one-way, unless sold out prior.