PNG on city’s radar af­ter Bali More flights in the wings

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA HEALY sa­man­tha. healy@ news. com. au

WITH six weeks to go un­til the first in­ter­na­tional flight from Townsville to Bali, talks are al­ready un­der way to add more des­ti­na­tions to the de­par­tures and ar­rivals board.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Herbert Ewen Jones said he had al­ready had dis­cus­sions with Qan­tas about in­tro­duc­ing flights be­tween Townsville and PNG, a sig­nif­i­cant trade part­ner for the city.

“It’s hugely im­por­tant that we look up and out and not just west to Mount Isa,” he said.

Mr Jones and Min­is­ter for Immigration and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Peter Dut­ton toured the in­ter­na­tional wing of Townsville Air­port yesterday.

The re­fur­bish­ment, which is near­ing com­ple­tion, is ex­pected to be fin­ished be­fore the first Jet­star flight to Denpasar de­parts on Septem­ber 2. It will in­clude a CCTV net­work, elec­tronic ex­am­i­na­tion and sub­stance- de­tec­tion fa­cil­i­ties and bio­met­ric tech­nol­ogy.

The Aus­tralian Bor­der Force has 12 of­fi­cers in Townsville but will be­gin re­cruit­ing to fill 12 ad­di­tional po­si­tions soon.

Asked whether he thought the city would ben­e­fit from a ded­i­cated in­ter­na­tional air­port, Mr Dut­ton said the re­fur­bish­ment at the ex­ist­ing air­port was the first step. He said he be­lieved the ad­di­tion of more in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions was a “very sig­nif­i­cant pos­si­bil­ity”.

“Ewen has been work­ing hard be­hind the scenes with the air­line and air­port op­er­a­tors and busi­ness com­mu­nity ... I think this is a space to watch,” Mr Dut­ton said.

Both men talked up the pos­si­ble jobs growth and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to Townsville with the ex­pan­sion of the air­port and port.

Mr Dut­ton said Townsville was the “epi­cen­tre of the growth in the north”. But Mr Jones said the city had to boost the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional flights and des­ti­na­tions to be vi­able.

“The Gov­ern­ment doesn’t source flights, it doesn’t source mar­ket des­ti­na­tions, but we can fa­cil­i­tate the dis­cus­sions be­tween the air­port, the air­lines and or­gan­ise the bu­reau­cracy around that,” he said.

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