High hopes for Cairns air­port to add routes

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Hay­den Smith

A DE­PART­ING Cairns Air­port high-flyer has noth­ing but op­ti­mism for the city’s thriv­ing travel hub.

After more than four years, aero­nau­tic de­vel­op­ment gen­eral man­ager Jan­ice An­ton­son is re­turn­ing to her na­tive Canada.

Dur­ing her ten­ure Mrs An­ton­son’s team helped de­liver sev­eral lu­cra­tive new ser­vices to the Far North.

“My role is, not only to at­tract new car­ri­ers to the re­gion but, just as im­por­tantly, main­tain the ones we have,” she said.

Last year proved ground­break­ing with bud­get car­rier Jetstar in­tro­duc­ing di­rect flights from Cairns to Bali while Philip­pine Air­lines touched down in De­cem­ber. But Mrs An­ton­son said di­rect flights be­tween Cairns and Sin­ga­pore, in­tro­duced through Silk Air last May, had been the most “ex­cit­ing” re­cent de­vel­op­ment.

“I saw it as the first thing that was needed be­cause Sin­ga­pore is so im­por­tant for con­nect­ing to mar­kets like Europe and In­dia,” she said.

“Philip­pine Air­lines has also been a re­ally good win for us.”

In the 12 months to Septem­ber in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers at Cairns Air­port in­creased by 3.9 per cent.

For the first time the air­port this year wel­comed more than five mil­lion pas­sen­gers in a 12month pe­riod.

Mrs An­ton­son said it was a “mat­ter of time” be­fore Cairns landed the big prize: year­round di­rect ser­vices from main­land China. “Many Chi­nese pas­sen­gers are fly­ing to Bris­bane and Syd­ney be­fore com­ing to Cairns, which takes up a lot of their travel time.

“But, al­though Cairns has a sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional air­port, it can be a chal­lenge to at­tract car­ri­ers be­cause of the city’s rel­a­tively small pop­u­la­tion.”

Mrs An­ton­son will of­fi­cially leave her po­si­tion on De­cem­ber 15, the same day flag­ship South Korean air­line Jin Air be­gins di­rect sea­son ser­vices be­tween Cairns and Seoul.

The Palm Cove res­i­dent said lur­ing other big-time air­lines to Cairns was a gen­uine pos­si­bil­ity. “I have just had a meet­ing with Emi­rates. There are al­ways op­tions for us.”

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