High hopes for Cairns airport to add routes
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.”