Virgin’s new route between Adelaide and Cairns is expected to generate a further $25 million in tourism for far north Queensland.
On Thursday, the inaugural flight took place as part of the newly introduced triweekly service between states – a new bubble to assist businesses during the travel drought.
The 737-8FE, VH-YIW msn 40700, departed Adelaide on 4 September at 12:06pm as flight VA1505 and landed in Cairns at 3:27pm.
Cairns Airport’s chief operating officer, Garry Porter, said the new route service would “increase connectivity” between the two cities.
“Later this month we have got some Qantas direct Adelaide [flights] coming online that will be another green shoot for us,” he said.
“We’ve introduced new services to the Sunshine Coast, Newcastle and Adelaide since the beginning of the pandemic based on traveller demand for the region,” he said.
This comes as Cairns has sought to “capture a more substantial share of the South Australian domestic tourism market”.
In 2019, Cairns Airport welcomed more than 55,000 tourists from Adelaide, making the South Australian capital the city’s third-largest market after Melbourne and Sydney.
The move is significant as its major markets have been in lockdown since late June, hindering Cairns’ most reliable travellers.
“We’re continuing to look at all route connections at the current time and are certainly open to direct services to Tasmania if the demand is there,” Porter said.
The airport will continue to focus on growing route services with South Australia and the Hunter Valley, expected to eventually facilitate a bubble with Tasmania.
The news follows the announcement Virgin Australia made in early August of the additional 10,000 new seats across two new routes beginning ahead of the September holidays.
The airline made the announcement alongside revealing plans to launch five new services and significantly increase frequency across its network, including by 30 per cent on the ‘Golden Triangle’.
Virgin said it would introduce five new services to allow for greater connection from capital cities to major regional destinations, including the Adelaide to Cairns route.
Others routes included were Perth-Cairns, Sydney-Townsville, Melbourne-Townsville and Sydney-Darwin.
The current COVID outbreak, which began in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in June, saw over 9,000 flight cancellations made that month alone, making up nearly 25 per cent of all flights for the month.
“With the current NSW and Victorian travel restrictions in place we know many local operators are and businesses are facing enormous challenges and these green shoots are really important right now,” Porter said.
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