The Far Northern economy has struggled in recent years due to the impact of the high Australian dollar on tourism and an over-supply of housing. But there appears to be good news coming out of Cairns airport, which suggests tourism might be picking up. The Cairns Post reports:
THE number of scheduled domestic flights and seat capacity to and from Cairns airport are at record highs.
There are now 38,384 seats available each week on 235 flights operated by Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways, according to Tourism Queensland figures for May.
Cairns Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said capacity was up 3 per cent on May 2011, or nearly 1200 passengers a week.
“Domestic capacity for Cairns for May 2012 is the highest on record. This is excellent news for the region’s tourism industry and will also include some response to growing demand from the resources sector,” he said.
Cairns to Brisbane remains the most popular route with 14,296 seats on 89 flights a week provided by Virgin (39 flights, 5574 seats), Qantas (27, 4536) and Jetstar (23, 4186).
While these figures are only for domestic flights, the majority of international visitors coming to Cairns arrive via domestic flights from other airports (e.g. Brisbane, Sydney). Of course, Far North tourism industry leaders will be hoping airlines increase direct international flights, too, as a number of direct flights, especially to and from Japan, have been cut in recent years. Industry leaders are eagerly awaiting the launch of the Newman Government’s promised Aviation Attraction Fund, which they hope will help lure direct flights from China:
The Government, however, ought to think about whether it’s sensible to spend money to attract direct international flights when it’s unclear whether the necessary level of demand to sustain these flights over the long-term will be forthcoming.