Cairns Airport upgrades to provide lift to Douglas Shire


Karlie Brady

Junior Reporter

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TAKEOFF: New international flights and improved safety measures at Cairns Airport are great for Douglas Shire.

The Queensland Government and Cairns Airport are pushing to increase the number of direct international flights into Cairns to attract more visitors to the region.

The push comes as data revealed that a large majority of visitors arriving in Cairns on domestic flights are from overseas.

Executive Officer at Tourism Port Douglas & Daintree Tara Bennett said the lack of direct international flights is creating a capacity issue.

This limits the amount of tourists that not only arrive in Cairns, but continue on to Port Douglas.

“Expanding international flights is critical for us to not only increase international visitation but free up domestic seats for our most vital market; the domestic market,” she said.

“75 per cent of domestic seats coming into town are being taken up by international travellers. That's causing the cost for domestic travellers to get here to be very high or making it far more difficult than other destinations.

“The domestic market makes up 65 per cent of our market so we don't want to be making it hard for them to get here, which is why it's so important that we increase international flights so we can free up some of the capacity on domestic flights,” Bennet said.

In response, a new deal has recently been struck to create more direct flights between Cairns and Auckland.

The Queensland Government has committed funding for a new agreement with Air New Zealand to add extra flights outside their usual seasonal service between March and October.

This could greatly increase the number of New Zealanders visiting the area rather then other tourism hotspots in Australia.

Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said increasing direct international flights to Cairns Airport could have a large flow on affect for the region, encouraging more visitors to come to the Douglas Shire.

“Growing international flights can only be positive for our thriving tourism economy and small businesses who benefit from more people spending more money in Douglas Shire.

“Growing our international access will release more domestic seats that are currently occupied by international travellers as this is restricting our potential domestic visitation,” Leu said.

In other airport news, the Cairns Airport has made passenger pick ups easier by introducing a new standby zone.

The Zone provides a free, safe space for people to stay in their car while waiting to pick up passengers from the pick up and drop off lanes.

The Standby Zone offers 22 car parks, located behind the T1 budget car park where customers can wait for up to 30-minutes.

Cairns Airport Chief Commercial Officer – Retail, Transport and Property Tracey Groves said the standby zone was created to overcome the problem of people parking in unsafe areas or continuously driving around the airport while waiting for passengers to disembark flights.

“We have listened to our customers who have been clear in telling us that, on occasion, the availability of a place to standby while awaiting the imminent arrival of friends or family members on an incoming flight would be appreciated.

“From a safety perspective, it minimises traffic looping past the arrivals pick up zone which is not only a traffic risk, but contributes to unnecessary wear and tear on airport road infrastructure,” Groves said.

CCTV cameras will monitor the area for security and to ensure cars are not left unattended and the Australian Federal Police will also patrol the area to ensure vehicles are not abandoned.



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