Fly North takes off: Coast to Cairns locked in
THINGS are looking up, literally, after a devastating few months, with long-awaited northern flights locked in for the Sunshine Coast.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is set to formally announce a partnership with Sunshine Coast Airport and Alliance Airlines to deliver a Sunshine Coast to Cairns route starting in July.
From July 17 three return services a week will operate, offering a key connection to the Far North Queensland destination which had long been on the wish list of local travellers.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the State Government was prioritising the new flights to support the recovery of the tourism and aviation sectors.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the new flights could carry more than 3800 tourists over the next three months and could potentially support about 13,500 jobs.
"These new flights will drive vital bookings for tourism businesses and will enable thousands more people to head back to work," she said.
Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Andrew Brodie said the Cairns destination had been "highly requested" by locals.
The new route was expected to service up to 40,000 passengers a year and deliver a $2.8 million tourism spend into the region.
Alliance Airlines chief executive officer Lee Schofield said the airline was delighted to partner with Sunshine Coast Airport and the Queensland Government to launch the new route.
"We know that residents, tourism operators and the broader businesses community in both regions have been calling for a link for many years and we're proud to be able to bring this to fruition," Mr Schofield said.
Visit Sunshine Coast chair David Ryan said he expected "considerable interest" from the North Queensland market as the region offered a "distinctly different" holiday experience from what they normally had.
Launch fares were set to start from $125 one-way.
Earlier this month Sunshine Coast Airport aviation business development general manager Gareth Williamson said he'd expected northern flights would be fast-tracked and likely start within the next year or two.
He said discussions had been ongoing at that stage, and Cairns was attractive as it offered the opportunity to partner with the region to tailor travel packages, especially for New Zealand travellers.