Push to boost air travel into re­gion

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

THE re­gion’s peak mar­ket­ing and de­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion is push­ing the need to boost air travel into Townsville as fig­ures show a fall in pas­sen­ger num­bers this year.

Townsville En­ter­prise Ltd rep­re­sen­ta­tives met with se­nior Qan­tas ex­ec­u­tives in Syd­ney this week with TEL CEO Pa­tri­cia O’Cal­laghan say­ing it was “re­ally pos­i­tive” and fur­ther meet­ings were planned.

“The ob­jec­tive of the meet­ing was to de­ter­mine how we can drive ad­di­tional de­mand into the re­gion in the in­ter­ests of grow­ing the econ­omy,” she said.

They pre­sented in­for­ma­tion on the lo­cal econ­omy’s per­for­mance and the pipe­line of projects on the hori­zon in­clud­ing the $ 250 mil­lion sta­dium and move by in­fra­struc­ture group Adani to es­tab­lish a min­ing base at Townsville.

They also raised avi­a­tion mar­kets TEL is tar­get­ing and the city’s events cal­en­dar.

“It was an op­por­tune time to present on not only the state of the re­gion but also the pipe­line of projects we have on the hori­zon,” Ms O’Cal­laghan said.

While Tig­erair and Air Niu- gini re­cently started ser­vices at Townsville and Vir­gin Air­lines and Airnorth have added ser­vices, the air­port’s sin­gle big­gest user, Qan­tas, has cut ca­pac­ity by us­ing smaller, older air­craft.

Also, sources say there are dif­fi­cul­ties for pas­sen­gers at the air­port when sev­eral flights ar­rive around the same time, with reports there were de­lays in bag­gage col­lec­tion of about 45 min­utes last Sun­day.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics pub­lished by Townsville Air­port, pas­sen­gers num­bers are down 0.7 per cent to about 1.44 mil­lion in the fi­nan­cial year to May af­ter a 2.1 per cent in­crease in 2015- 16.

Ms O’Cal­laghan said Townsville had ex­pe­ri­enced some chal­leng­ing times but there were a lot of pos­i­tive things hap­pen­ing and some “green shoots”.

“Our econ­omy has held solidly. We still have over $ 14 bil­lion of gross re­gional prod­uct, the sod will be turned on the sta­dium later this year and Adani’s head of­fice is cur­rently be­ing es­tab­lished,” she said.

“There’s a lot hap­pen­ing and we need to be plan­ning for it. The busi­ness com­mu­nity is trav­el­ling more fre­quently to the mar­kets of Bris­bane, Syd­ney and Mel­bourne. We need to be sure we have the ca­pac­ity.”

BEST FOOT FOR­WARD: Ben­dict Ponti with Adam, 6, Tony Ponti, Ju­lia Ponti, 4, Bianca Ponti, Do­minic Ponti with Leo, 1, Chris­tine Ponti and An­thony Ponti with Thomas, 2, are all ready for the walk for Pan­cre­atic Can­cer. Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

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