Lion City link ready for take-off
The years have turned into months, and the months into days as Broome counts down to its first international passenger flights in nearly two decades.
The last overseas air service left Broome International Airport for Bali in 2001 and the trial flights starting this month from the Kimberley town to Singapore have been years in the making.
They have been made possible through partnership with Australia’s North West Tourism, BIA, the Shire of Broome, Tourism WA, Tourism Australia and the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, Silkair.
The ultimate aim is to make them permanent.
The advantages are twofold — exposing the Asian market to tourism experiences in Broome and across the region, while giving people from the Kimberley town direct access to the Lion City and its worldwide connections.
The added bonuses for Broome passengers would be less time in the air with a four-hour non-stop flight and no transit time in Perth.
BIA chief executive Paul McSweeney said ticket sales had been encouraging but seats were still available in the period leading up to the flights leaving Broome on Tuesday, May 26, May 29 and June 2.
“The airport has worked closely with Australian Border Force to ensure it has the infrastructure ready to service the flights,” he said.
“My team that has worked tirelessly to ensure everything is ready well ahead of the arrival of the historic first flight and I am very proud of them”.
Mr McSweeney said a decision on whether the flights converted to a regular service would be made after the trial.
But he was encouraged by a crucial trend showing that about 70 per cent of the tickets purchased so far were Singapore passengers heading to Broome.
“This inbound market is proving to be a huge bonus for local business and also providing a wonderful opportunity to showcase the amazing Broome and Kimberley brand to the rest of the world,” Mr McSweeney said. Australia’s North West Tourism chief executive Glen Chidlow said many new doors of opportunity were already opening. “Broome businesses have already established relationships with agents and wholesalers in what is primarily a new market, but one that is on our doorstep,” he said. “And while Singapore is the primary target for this series of flights, the long-term goal is to open a gateway to the Kimberley that funnels visitors from a number of international markets by capitalising on Changi (Singapore) Airport’s hub capability.”
Broome Shire president Harold Tracey said the community should support the trial flights.
“As a reflection of just how important this opportunity is, the Shire of Broome has committed up to $90,000 to underwrite the return legs of the flights not included in the Singapore to Broome travel packages,” he said.
“We’re also very grateful for the work that’s been done to get this flight trial off the ground.”
SilkAir will fly Broome’s first international passenger flights in nearly two decades.