Council’s Whitsunday Coast Airport is playing a leading role in kick-starting the region’s recovery by securing a deal with Jetstar to commence direct flights to Melbourne when interstate borders reopen.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said it was only proactive negotiations yesterday which lured Jetstar to make a late route change and add three weekly Whitsundays-Melbourne return flights to their revised schedule.
“We have been like a dog with a bone in our talks with airlines to make sure we position our airport at the front of the queue to secure increased flights.”
“The good news is that we are not resting on our laurels and the chase is on to increase the Melbourne flights to daily and also chase a direct Whitsunday-Sydney route.
“The new Jetstar flights will commence as soon as the state’s border reopens for inter-state travel with fares starting from just $90 one-way,” he said.
“The wonderful Whitsundays is one of Queensland’s premier holiday destinations for travellers wanting some winter sun, so the timing is perfect.
“Last year the Whitsunday Coast Airport had nearly 500,000 passengers pass through our terminal so connectivity via the air is vital for our region.
“The increased connectivity to possible daily flights would boost our airport numbers in and out of region by 4000 weekly and be a real game changer for the economic recovery of our businesses and tourism sector.”
Tourism Minister Kate Jones welcomed today’s announcement- which comes after the Palaszczuk Government recently committed $15 million to secure new flights for Queensland.
“The Whitsundays is one of the most beautiful places in the world to come and visit,” Ms Jones said.
“We know there are people right throughout the country who are itching for a great holiday. These flights will help to ensure that Queensland capitalises on this demand.
“Because Queenslanders have done such a great job fighting coronavirus, we’re now able to focus on our economic recovery.
“Flights are crucial to our tourism industry. We’ll continue to work with council to secure more direct routes to the Whitsundays.”
Mayor Willcox said tourism represents one in three jobs in the Whitsundays so obviously growing domestic travel was a priority.
“More tourists in region means more money spent in region, which means more jobs for locals.
“A big thanks to the Queensland Government for their funding support to help drive our recovery” he said.
Whitsunday Coast Airport Chief Operating Officer Aviation and Tourism, Craig Turner said creating access to the Melbourne market would pay huge dividends for the struggling tourism sector.
“The airport is focusing on leveraging the expected travel demand of the huge domestic population bases of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to holiday in the wonderful Whitsundays.
“Our local economy, our businesses and our tourism sector are hurting, and the reality is we need visitors returning right now and leveraging domestic opportunities will provide that quick fix to help them recover,”
Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Office, Tash Wheeler, said the extra flights were a positive sign for tourism in The Whitsundays.
“We need to be working harder than ever to connect visitors into the region as seamlessly as possible,” she said.
“Congratulations to Council and the team at Whitsunday Coast Airport on a forward-thinking plan to support the recovery of the region.”
“Everyone has been through a tough few months and now is the time to take a holiday and reconnect with loved ones.
“We have paired this announcement with some incredible holiday deals for those wanting to escape the winter chill and head north with our ‘Escape Winter’ campaign.”
For more information or to book a flight, please visit: www.jetstar.com.au
Source: Whitsunday Regional Council.