Qantas is set to return to the Sunshine Coast in a boost for tourism in South East Queensland.
Later this year, the Flying Kangaroo will relaunch flights between the Sunshine Coast (Maroochydore) and Sydney as well as launch services between Melbourne and the Gold Coast for the first time to give customers more premium travel options.
Qantas Domestic chief executive officer Andrew David said the network changes were part of the Qantas Group’s twice yearly schedule update.
“These new services help us meet the growing demand for premium leisure services between Sydney and Maroochydore and Melbourne and the Gold Coast,” David said.
“We will introduce a new daily Boeing 737 service between Melbourne and the Gold Coast starting on 25 October.
“We’ll also start six services per week between Sydney and Maroochydore from 21 December with flying that will cater for leisure travellers over the summer holiday period, before a new schedule with more business-friendly times begins in February.
“The QantasLink flights between Sydney and Maroochydore will be operated by a two class Boeing 717, which offers Q-Streaming inflight entertainment in every seat via a passenger’s personal electronic device and complimentary iPads for all passengers.”
David said operating both Qantas and Jetstar to popular Queensland tourism destinations showed the Group’s successful dual brand strategy in action.
“Offering both airlines on these routes means we can appeal to leisure travellers with Jetstar while Qantas caters for more premium leisure and business customers. Ultimately, it’s about giving people more choice,” he said.
Last month, Qantas began operating flights between Melbourne and Hamilton Island, which allowed Jetstar to come off the route and add services between Melbourne and the Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine).
An additional daily frequency between Sydney and the Gold Coast and more flying from Hobart will start in February next year.
The extra flying has been made possible by the introduction of an additional two leased Boeing 717 aircraft from early 2016 taking the total B717 fleet to 20.
It is also offset by a reduction in intra-WA flying in response to a slowdown in the mining sector, and a shift to smaller aircraft on other routes in line with passenger demand.
Fleet flexibility for increased flying has been provided by reducing the turnaround times of the B737 domestic fleet.
“The new schedule includes a number of 35 minute turns for our fleet of B737s, which builds on the success of a program we started last year to reduce the amount of time our aircraft spend on the ground. It gives us more flexibility to take advantage of opportunities when we see them,” David said.
Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd CEO, Simon Ambrose, said that the reintroduction of Qantas services was great news for the Sunshine Coast.
“The Qantas services will add a new dimension to Sunshine Coast’s tourism sector,” he said.
“Jetstar and Virgin have been great ambassadors for the Sunshine Coast in the domestic market and have consistently increased services from Sydney and Melbourne, and now Qantas will contribute significantly to growing business travel and conferences.
“Last year we attracted 9.2% domestic growth, and with major infrastructure development happening throughout the region, as well as increases in conference and events capacity, the Qantas services will find an instant market, as well as encouraging more international travellers to connect to the Coast.
“Qantas’ international reach is very important, and by adding the Sunshine Coast to its network will allow us to market more strongly in Asia, Europe and America. Last year, we grew the international market by a record 15.7%, and with the new Qantas services as well as growth in Air New Zealand direct services, we believe we can grow the inbound market even further.”