Asia air link near take- off Talks fo­cus on Sin­ga­pore plan

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DOMANII CAMERON domanii. cameron@ news. com. au

FLIGHTS be­tween Townsville and Sin­ga­pore are “on the hori­zon” with Townsville En­ter­prise to dis­cuss the po­ten­tial route with air­lines on a del­e­ga­tion to the coun­try in Septem­ber.

The busi­ness and tourism body is host­ing the Sin­ga­pore In­sights Del­e­ga­tion from Septem­ber 4- 8, with lo­cal busi­nesses be­ing en­cour­aged to travel and take ad­van­tage of the citys­tate’s grow­ing ties with Townsville.

It has been four months since Air Ni­ug­ini launched flights from Port Moresby to Townsville and two years since Jet­star be­gan a di­rect Bali route.

Speak­ing at the Townsville Bulletin Busi­ness Break­fast yes­ter­day, Townsville En­ter­prise chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Pa­tri­cia O’Cal­laghan said air routes to Sin­ga­pore and Auck­land, New Zealand, were on the hori­zon.

“We are ob­vi­ously still looking at the busi­ness case, we need to prove demand,” she said. “We need our busi­nesses to un­der­stand the op­por­tu­ni­ties over there and we need this to show that these ( routes) are fea­si­ble.”

Ms O’Cal­laghan said the city could strengthen trade and in­vest­ment by lever­ag­ing the Com­pre­hen­sive Strate­gic Part­ner­ship be­tween Aus­tralia and Sin­ga­pore and the re­cently amended free trade agree­ment.

“The prox­im­ity to do busi­ness is great and we are in a sim­i­lar time zone,” she said. “We will be dis­cussing ( flights) over there and we will be meet­ing with air­lines.

“Any new route al­ways comes with risk and we need to show them what’s com­ing up in our pipe­line.”

When asked whether Townsville Air­port needed an up­grade be­fore new flights could start, Ms O’Cal­laghan said the city could not wait.

Qan­tas has so far re­fused to agree to a $ 3 per pas­sen­ger levy which has been pro­posed to help fund a planned $ 40 mil­lion air­port re­de­vel­op­ment.

“We know that the ne­go­ti­a­tions are hap­pen­ing be­tween the air­port and Qan­tas,” Ms O’Cal­laghan said.

“We’re not go­ing to wait, we’re get­ting on with the job.

“We need these busi­ness cases and they take time to de­velop.

“In the back­ground we’re try­ing to get ( Qan­tas) to com­mit.”

A Townsville Air­port spokes­woman said it con­tin­ued to work with air­lines and Townsville En­ter­prise to broaden the flight net­work avail­able to the re­gion from both a do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive.

“Hav­ing suc­cess­fully se­cured in­ter­na­tional ser­vices to Pa­pua New Guinea with Air Ni­ug­ini and do­mes­tic ser­vices to Mel­bourne with Tig­erair, the air­port is now focused on work­ing to­gether with all as­so­ci­ated stake­hold­ers to en­sure the sus­tain­abil­ity of these routes,” she said.

Main picture: EVAN MOR­GAN

DIV­ING IN: Ja­son deCaires Tay­lor and ( inset) one of his art­works.

Ms O'Cal­laghan.

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