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