The Qantas Group today (Feb 11) announced new services to its international and domestic network into Queensland.
Internationally, Qantas will increase its upcoming Brisbane-Tokyo (Narita) service from four to seven return flights a week in a major boost to inbound tourism.
This change to the previously announced route, which starts in August, represents an increase in seats of 75 per cent to over 4000 seats a week.
Domestically, more than 15,000 seats a year will be added to the Whitsunday Coast region as part of a dual brand revamp to Qantas and Jetstar’s flying.
From 27 June, Qantas will introduce a twice weekly return service between Melbourne and Hamilton Island, taking over the route from Jetstar.
In turn, Jetstar will start operating a direct three-times-per-week weekly service between Melbourne and the Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine) from 25 June 2015.
Qantas’ Regional Manager for Queensland, Peter Collyns, said the announcement demonstrated the Group’s commitment to growing inbound and outbound visitors at all points in the market.
“This is great news for Qantas customers who now have a range of new, direct travel options on our international and domestic network,” Collyns said.
“We’ve worked closely with Brisbane Airport to increase our upcoming Tokyo route to a daily service, as well as Tourism and Events Queensland and the Queensland Government.
“This is a big positive for local tourism because it makes Queensland even more accessible to Japanese travellers.
“Qantas customers now have a direct premium service from Melbourne to Hamilton Island, and Jetstar will offer the only low fares between Melbourne and the Whitsunday Coast Airport,” Collyns said.
Jetstar Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Officer David Hall said he was impressed by the revitalisation taking place in Airlie Beach during a visit to the region in December 2014.
“We know that local tourism operators have been calling for a direct Melbourne service for some time and Jetstar is delighted to offer it with the support of the Whitsunday Regional Council,” Hall said.
“Low fares encourage more travel demand and there will be plenty of Melbournians looking for some warmer weather when this new service starts in June.”
Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) Chief Executive, Leanne Coddington, welcomed the news and Qantas’ support of Queensland tourism.
“Today’s announcement is terrific news for our industry and will provide international and Australian travellers with better access to a range of popular Queensland destinations,” Coddington said.
“TEQ has worked closely with Qantas and Brisbane Airport Corporation to support the Tokyo route which will have the capacity to bring more than 100,000 extra travellers to Queensland each year.
“The daily flights will play a significant role in driving more Japanese visitors to Queensland and complements Jetstar’s existing services into Cairns and the Gold Coast.”
Japan is one of Queensland’s most important international markets with 160,000 Japanese travelling to Queensland in the year to September 2014, an increase of two per cent on the year prior.
Japanese visitors also spent $318 million in Queensland during the year, an increase of 14 per cent.
Coddington said TEQ would continue to work closely with Qantas in the year ahead on marketing initiatives to support the new services.
“Qantas’ decision to increase services into the Whitsundays, backed by traveller demand, will be welcome news for local tourism operators, opening the skies to more than 15,000 extra visitors a year,” she said.
The Whitsundays is a popular Queensland holiday destination welcoming around 670,000 visitors annually.