Asia air link near take- off Talks focus on Singapore plan
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.
DIVING IN: Jason deCaires Taylor and ( inset) one of his artworks.