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New flights secured by the State Government to support tourism businesses

13 October 2021

Virgin Australia will launch new permanent and seasonal flights to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and Cairns from December, adding an extra 146 834 seats and supporting almost 420 jobs in Queensland through a partnership with the Palaszczuk Government.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state’s support for new air services would inject $53.7 million into struggling tourism businesses – an important part of Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan.

“More flights mean more dollars for struggling tourism businesses,” the Premier said.

“That’s why we’re working with airlines to bring back flights from destinations that are COVID safe.

“We’ve partnered with Virgin to land new seasonal air services on the Gold Coast from Launceston and Hobart, three and four-times-a-week respectively.

“There’s also a new permanent service locked in for flights between Cairns and the Gold Coast.

“And we’ve also partnered with Virgin to re-start their year-round Adelaide to Sunshine Coast service.

“Tourism businesses have done it tough throughout COVID-19.

“These flights will help to generate more revenue for our industry and support struggling businesses to make it through the pandemic.”

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said more flights would serve as an incentive for prospective tourists to book a holiday in Queensland.

“Virgin’s new schedule is perfect for launching new capacity for endless Queensland summers on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and Cairns,” he said.

“We know after a long winter, South Australians and Tasmanians crave a holiday in the tropical sun.

“And with direct flights at great prices all you need to do is pack a bag for a dream holiday experience.

“This is the perfect time for South Australians and Tasmanians to start planning.

“Queensland offers so much for holidaymakers from our laid-back beach lifestyle, beautiful hinterland drives, exceptional culinary experiences to our adrenaline-pumping theme parks, plus the natural wonders of the Far North’s Great Barrier Reef, and the world’s oldest living rainforest, the Daintree.

“Virgin’s flights will add holiday cheer for tourism operators with hotels, restaurants and visitor experiences by helping to support more than 419 local jobs after tough pandemic year.”

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the three new services were a significant expansion to Virgin Australia’s Gold Coast route network.

“Our 4,600 tourism businesses are extremely keen to roll out the welcome mat to travellers who love to holiday and reconnect in our slice of paradise each year,” said Ms O’Callaghan.

“We know holidaymakers are increasingly seeking to reconnect and spend quality time together and the Gold Coast is well placed to roll out the red carpet.

“Destination Gold Coast is proud to support this initiative and we know that as the tourism sector continues to recover, expanding the Gold Coast’s aviation footprint will be critical to rebuilding the visitor economy.”

Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said the new Gold Coast services would start during what was usually the peak tourism season and as travel nationally started to ramp up.

“When the Gold Coast-Launceston flights start in early December, it will be the first time a scheduled service has ever operated on this route – creating another new market for the Gold Coast,” he said.

“Extra capacity on the already popular Gold Coast-Hobart and Gold Coast-Cairns routes is also extremely welcome.

“These services will deliver more options for visitors wanting to come to the Gold Coast and for locals looking to holiday in North Queensland.”

Sunshine Coast Airport CEO, Andrew Brodie, said he was thrilled Virgin has decided to commence the Adelaide to Sunshine Coast route year-round.

“We’re looking forward to connecting more passengers between Sunshine Coast and Adelaide each week, and Virgin’s decision to fly the route year-round is a strong vote confidence in our region,” Mr Brodie said.

“These Virgin services provide more choice and frequency for passengers, and we believe by building more connections like these our region will emerge strongly from the effects of COVID-19.

“The introduction of services will cater to the significant pent up travel demand from travellers keen to explore the appeal of our beaches, hinterland and fresh produce in both peak and shoulder holiday seasons.”

Virgin Australia’s Chief Transformation Officer Alistair Hartley said the new services would be a shot in the arm for Southeast Queensland’s coastal communities.  

"This is about connecting people with loved ones, helping people make the most of the holiday period, and, importantly, supporting local Queensland businesses who have been doing it tough,” Mr Hartley said.

“These services have sale fares available from $79 one way and will carry more than 25,000 passengers a month, including 4,224 between the Gold Coast and Launceston on a route that hasn’t been commercially operated in 20 years.”