Townsville Airport has welcomed the addition of new direct flights between north Queensland and South Australia, allowing customers to skirt around state border closures and shaving hours off the journey.
QantasLink performed its first direct flight between Adelaide and Townsville on Monday, as it prepares to add an additional 30,000 seats per year – or three return services per week – on the route.
It’s the first new interstate route to Townsville introduced in nearly a decade, and removes the need for customers to connect via Brisbane or Sydney – the latter of which could send travellers into two weeks hotel quarantine.
Doing so also shaves up to two hours off the total travel time.
“It is really exciting to celebrate the start of a new route – particularly as other interstate markets remain closed,” said Townsville Airport general manager Brendan Cook.
“Queensland and South Australia remain open to each other, and we expect lots of family reunions via this service between now and Christmas.
“We celebrated in the terminal today with a themed cake and terminal decorations, giving the first passengers a warm north Queensland welcome.”
QantasLink CEO John Gissing said, “We know that Australians are eager to travel again, and these new flights open up a direct connection between Adelaide and Townsville just in time for the school holidays.
“Adelaide has been very popular with travellers over the past year with its culture, entertainment and as a gateway to Australia’s world-famous wine regions.
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“These flights will help drive more visitors to Townsville which will help local businesses in their recovery from the impact of COVID.”
The Adelaide service is one of three new E190 aircraft routes through Townsville Airport, achieved through Qantas’ wetlease agreement with Alliance Airlines.
The remaining two routes will be direct flights from both Sydney and Melbourne, which are expected to commence once state borders reopen.
“While we are still being impacted by COVID-19 management measures, these new services are a real positive for north Queensland,” Cook said, noting that Townsville’s passenger numbers hit around 57,000 in August – just 38 per cent of pre-COVID levels.
Cook also encouraged north Queenslanders to get vaccinated and for the federal and state governments to stick to the agreed timeline for borders staying open associated with 70-80 per cent vaccination levels.
“This is critical if travel is going to return to more normal levels,” he said.
Qantas begun flying five of the eight Embraer E190s it activated in its deal with the aircraft’s owners Alliance in May this year.
The flag carrier began operating VH-UYW, VH-UYZ, VH-UYY, VH-UYB and VH-UYO between Adelaide/Darwin and Alice Springs. Its deal with the smaller airline has the potential to include up to 14 E190s moving forward.
Raul Villaron, APAC vice president for Embraer’s commercial aviation division, said, “Congratulations to Alliance Airlines and Qantas as they step up the use of the Embraer E190s to enhance regional connectivity in Australia with right-sized capacity.
“Our team in Australia are ready to support their needs as the E190 literally goes places in the country.”
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