The Whitsundays tourism industry received a boost today after the Queensland Government announced it would support Alliance Airlines to run flights from Brisbane to Proserpine.
In a deal secured in partnership with the Whitsunday Regional Council, Alliance Aviation Services (ASX: AQZ) subsidiary will fly the route four times per week with an option to ramp up to daily flights if demand permits.
Alliance Aviation is 19.8 per cent owned by Qantas (ASX: QAN).
"Tourism supports one in three jobs in the Whitsundays. We know how crucial this industry is to the livelihoods of people in this region," says QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
"We've been able to open Queensland to Queenslanders because Queenslanders did so well at dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic."
Tourism Minister Kate Jones says flights will return to the Whitsundays on 22 June for the first time since 28 March, and are expected to generate more than $9.2 million in income for the region with 5,300 tourists expected over the next 12 months.
The Minister also expects the flights will create more than 85 local jobs.
"We know that more tourists means more cash for local businesses," says Jones.
"This will pump millions of dollars into the local economy and support local jobs."
Alliance Airlines CEO Lee Schofield says the company is delighted to be partnering with Whitsunday Coast Airport to make these new flights a reality.
"We understand there are many essential services that are currently unable to access the Whitsundays and Alliance are proud to be able to be the first airline to recommence scheduled services to Whitsunday Coast Airport," says Schofield.
"With current travel restrictions easing we look forward to working with WCA to welcome many visitors to the Whitsunday region on our flights.
"Alliance Airlines are proud to be playing this important role in reawakening tourism in this beautiful part of Queensland."
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox says he is committed to working with the government to support tourism businesses that are doing it tough.
"To attract a new airline partner as we start our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a real boost for the tourism and business sectors in the Whitsundays," he says.
"With the Premier lifting restrictions on travel within Queensland it is important that our airport resume services.
"Over the last decade the tourism stakeholders in the Whitsundays have had to be a resilient mob but with a focus on domestic tourism for the next 12-18 months there is light at the end of the tunnel."
He says the airport was approaching 500,000 passengers annually prior to the pandemic, so it is vital this key gateway to the Whitsundays is up and running as quickly as possible.
Whitsunday Coast Airport chief operating officer aviation and tourism, Craig Turner, says it is important to be proactive with so many regions fighting for flights now restrictions are easing.
"These flights present the opportunity for WCA to develop a partnership with Alliance Airlines through this challenging period and beyond," he says.
"Alliance Airlines launch fares will start at $99 one-way including taxes. All fares are inclusive of 20kg free checked baggage.
"In addition to the "now", WCA and Council are committed to a long-term relationship with Alliance to boost future passenger numbers to the Whitsundays."
On Monday the Premier called on Queenslanders to travel somewhere in the state they have never been before.
"We want to strengthen Queensland's traditional industries like tourism," she said today.
"We want to see more Queenslanders having a holiday in the Whitsundays. That's what today's announcement is all about."
Alliance also has services linking Brisbane with Bundaberg, Gladstone, Cloncurry and Port Macquarie.Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
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