Ballina-Byron is now the 14th-busiest airport in Australia
PASSENGER numbers through the Ballina Byron airport have soared to nearly double over the past five years.
Recent figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics show the number of people using the airport has grown 9.4% in the past year from 399,300 in June 2014 to 437,100 in June 2015.
The stats rank the Ballina Byron airport the 14th on the list of highest passenger numbers for regional airports in Australia.
However, Ballina Byron Gateway Airport manager Neil Weatherson said there were only two other airports ahead of Ballina Byron on the list that show growth.
"A lot of the ones above us are mining ones (airports) that are struggling," he said.
"There are very few airports above us that are growing at the moment. We're one of the success stories."
Mr Weatherson said in the past five years the airport passenger numbers had almost doubled from 270,000 to 470,000 in the next 12 months.
"Our forecast and our vision for 2020-21 is 700,000 passengers a year."
North Coast Destination Network executive officer Belinda Novicky said the passenger figures reflected growing tourism in the region.
"We do know that short breaks and fly/drive holidays are growing domestic tourism and I think there's huge opportunities for Ballina Byron to expand on that and capture that growing market," she said.
Mr Weatherson said the majority of passengers came from Melbourne and Sydney, attributing the growth to low cost airfares and affordability.
He said the airport had recently put in an application to the state government for a $7.5m grant to triple the size of the departure lounge, café and toilets and double the amount of chairs.