Convincing a commercial airline to offer the flights is believed to be the biggest hurdle to securing the new international route.


By CHRISTIE ANDERSON Townsville Bulletin

Pport Moresby Jacksons International Airport

FLIGHTS from Townsville to Papua New Guinea are on the cards with community leaders and the Townsville Airport backing the potential route.

Strong links between Townsville and Papua New Guinea as well as mining and trade have put the potential route on the radar of airport heads and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill.

Convincing a commercial airline to offer the flights is believed to be the biggest hurdle to securing the new international route.

Townsville Airport chief operating officer Kevin Gill said talks were under way with airlines about the potential for Papua New Guinea flights.

“We believe that the direct connectivity between Townsville and Papua New Guinea has merit given the strong links between the countries in terms of culture, health, education and mining,” he said.

“The challenge is connecting that opportunity with the correct airlines and Townsville Airport believes that there are options in this regard and continues to have discussions with airlines.”

It comes after Jetstar launched flights from Townsville to Bali in September last year. Flights to Auckland are also on the cards with Cr Hill expected to travel to New Zealand in June to continue talks about the potential of the route.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said the airline doesn’t currently fly to Papua New Guinea and despite the success of Townsville’s Bali flights there were no plans to extend their services into Papua New Guinea.

“Our Townsville to Bali flights are performing well and we’re continuing to focus on this route for now,” she said.

“We don’t have plans to fly to Papua New Guinea.”

It comes after a $44 million terminal redevelopment was announced for Townsville Airport but the project has been met with some criticism from airlines.

Jetstar is concerned about being slugged an extra $4 million annually to fund the airport development.

Cr Hill said she believed the route would be a popular one and could bring huge benefits for Townsville.

“A lot of businesses do work in Papua New Guinea and lot of residents have family and friends over there,” she said.

Herbert MP Ewen Jones said the potential flight route was a “no-brainer” and he was concerned additional international routes were not already flying following the introduction of the Bali flights.

“The flights can take off from Townsville and pick people up in Cairns but we’ll already be on the aeroplane and there will be no need for people to spend a night in Cairns anymore,” he said.

“We’ve had a sister city relationship between Townsville and Port Moresby for 30 years so I can’t believe we don’t have flights there.

“The council has had 30 years to get this right and now we’ve already had international flights from Townsville Airport for nearly 12 months.”

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