In a boost to North Queensland tourism, Singapore Airlines-owned regional carrier Silkair will fly to Cairns from its Singapore hub from May 30 2015.
Cairns will be Silkair’s second Australian destination, following the launch of direct service to Darwin in March 2012.
“This is an exciting development for SilkAir, to be able to expand our presence in the Australian market,” Silkair chief executive Leslie Thng said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We believe this new service will be of interest to the leisure travellers as Cairns is well known for being the gateway to the popular Great Barrier Reef.”
Silkair and Singapore Airlines will operate to seven Australian destinations – Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – once the new flights launch in May 2015.
The airline will fly from Singapore to Cairns via Darwin on Mondays and Thursdays, with a non-stop flight on Saturdays.
The return from Cairns to Singapore will be non-stop on Mondays and Thursdays, while those heading to the city-state or beyond on Saturdays will travel via Darwin.
The airline said the route would be flown by Boeing 737-800 aircraft with business and economy class.
Cairns Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said the new services would provide vital links from North Queensland to Asia and Europe and make it easier for overseas tourists to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
Queensland Minister for Tourism Jann Stuckey said Silkair was expected to deliver about 20,000 extra visitors to the region, with the route to generate $14 million in visitor spending during its first year of operation.
Stuckey said the route was supported by the state government’s Aviation Investment Fund.
“The Queensland government looks forward to working in partnership with SilkAir to deliver international marketing activities over the next three years to support this highly anticipated service,” Stuckey said in a statement.
Singapore Airlines owns about 23 per cent of Virgin Australia and the two carriers have a codeshare agreement, deep alliance and reciprocal frequent flyer arrangement across their respective networks.