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By Mark Beale

WHITSUNDAY residents will soon be able to fly direct between Melbourne and the Whitsunday Coast Airport at Proserpine. Yesterday it was announced that Jetstar will begin servicing the sought-after route from June 25, with three return flights per week on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney, Council’s CEO Scott Waters and Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) destination tourism manager Rebecca Nicol, broke the news during yesterday’s council meeting. Cr Whitney said over the past few months, council had been working closely with Jetstar’s CEO David Hall to secure the service to and from Victoria’s capital city.

“During Jetstar CEO David Hall’s visit to Airlie Beach in December last year he was impressed by the revitalisation of the town and heard about the need for the Melbourne services (direct) from local tourism operators,” she said.

“I know the local tourism industry will be very excited about today’s announcement from Jetstar which opens up the Melbourne market to Whitsunday tourism operators. I also know these direct flights are something locals have been crying out for and many members of the local community will love being able to fly directly to Melbourne from Whitsunday Coast Airport.”

Cr Whitney said direct services to Melbourne were another step towards turning the Whitsunday Coast Airport into an international hub.

“We believe we’ve got the potential for a transport hub and to bring internationals into this area,” she said.

Mr Waters said that council and WMDL had been standing “shoulder to shoulder” lobbying airlines for the Whitsunday Coast to Melbourne route and that the new service would help grow tourism in the region as well as provide a lifestyle balance for locals wanting to head south. Qantas also announced yesterday additional flights between Melbourne and Hamilton Island on a Saturday and Sunday, will be introduced from June 27.

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