BUDGET carrier Jetstar is doing its bit to boost traffic through the Gold Coast Airport following departure today of the first flight to Tokyo serviced by a 787 Dreamliner.

The move marks a major milestone for the Tokyo-to-Gold Coast service which Jetstar has been operating since 2008 with the lower-capacity A330-220 aircraft.

Jetstar says the move to lift capacity comes on the back of the growing popularity of the Gold Coast for the Japanese market, as well as the economies of scale provided by the higher capacity jet.

A spokesman says the 787 Dreamliner will help maintain the airline’s competitiveness on the route.

Japanese tourists continue to seek out Queensland as a destination, with Cairns the next most popular departure point, he says.

Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey says the Tokyo-Gold Coast route now has the potential to “entice thousands of extra Japanese visitors to Queensland every year, providing a huge boost to our tourism industry as well as local small businesses”.

“The announcement of this new aircraft reinforces the confidence the airline industry has in the Queensland visitor economy, on the back of the Newman Government’s $8 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund,” Stuckey says.

Flight JQ 11 took off from the Gold Coast today bound for Tokyo Narita Airport with more than 250 passengers on board.

The Gold Coast is the fourth Australian city that Jetstar services with the Dreamliner.

“We now have five Boeing 787 Dreamliners in our long-haul fleet and we’re delighted that our customers from the Gold Coast will have the opportunity to experience everything this amazing aircraft has to offer,” says Jetstar Australia and New Zealand CEO David Hall.

“We know that many of our customers plan their holidays so they can travel on the 787 and we expect the aircraft will provide a further enticement for Japanese visitors to experience the Gold Coast’s many attractions.”

Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer David Collins describes the aircraft upgrade as major boost for the Gold Coast.

“Jetstar is a long-term, valued airline partner here at Gold Coast Airport and we are thrilled to receive a 787 aircraft to service the Gold Coast-Narita route.

“The A330-200 aircraft is a 303-seater; securing the 787 Dreamliner means Jetstar can now carry 335 people on the service. This equates to an additional 224 seats per week.

“Since the Gold Coast-Tokyo service commenced in 2008, Jetstar has carried 675,000 passengers between the two destinations.

“The majority of inbound Japanese passengers choose to end their visit in Australia with a stay on the Gold Coast.

“Jetstar recognised this by making the sound business decision to commence direct Osaka and Tokyo flights into the Gold Coast back in 2008.

“The 787 commitment from Jetstar is a real boost for the region and signifies their belief that the future of international tourism on the Gold Coast is looking bright.”

Gold Coast Airport is the fifth busiest airport in Australia, servicing six international destinations in four countries.

The airport manages more than 5.6 million passenger movements a year.

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