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Monday, July 15, 2024

Cathay Pacific resumes flights to Cairns

CATHAY Pacific, Hong Kong’s home carrier, is recommencing flights to Cairns this year, just in time for the Christmas holidays.

The leading premier airline will operate a seasonal service of three flights per week from Cairns Airport during the peak holiday period between 17 December 2024 and 29 March 2025. 

This will include both the Christmas and Chinese New Year festive holidays, when Tropical North Queensland traditionally welcomes an influx of international visitors.

Cathay Pacific’s services will also provide extensive new connections for locals heading overseas during the summer holidays. The addition of Cathay Pacific to the Cairns market will contribute to bolstering international passenger numbers back to pre-COVID levels. 

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said the news was very positive.

“This is a significant and highly positive announcement for our region as we enter a new era in the relationship between Cairns Airport and Cathay Pacific,” he said.

A delegation from Tropical North Queensland visited Hong Kong in August 2023 to meet with Cathay Pacific and key travel trade partners.

The group, led by Tourism Minister Michael Healy, included Cairns Airport, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Department of Tourism and Innovation, Advance Cairns and Trade and Investment Queensland. 

“We received a warm welcome from the senior executive of Cathay Pacific and with the support of the Queensland Government through the Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, the result is being able to welcome three services per week using Cathay Pacific’s two-class configured Airbus A330 aircraft,” Mr Barker said. 

“This is also a great opportunity for our local exporters to gain direct access to Hong Kong and Mainland China.

“Cathay Pacific is a well-known brand in our market and we hope that seeing their familiar aircraft at our international terminal will lead to further opportunities beyond this seasonal operation.” 

A cathay pacific plane Image supplied
A Cathay Pacific plane IMAGE Supplied

The Cathay Group’s passenger and cargo networks offer scheduled services to more than 90 destinations worldwide, including 19 in the Chinese mainland.

The group also serves an additional 149 destinations through codeshare agreements. 

Southwest Pacific Regional General Manager Frosti Lau said there is great excitement about bringing Cathay Pacific back to Cairns.

“It has been nearly five years since Cathay Pacific has flown out of Cairns and we are thrilled to be bringing our services back,” Mr Lau said.

“This seasonal service will offer direct access to Hong Kong and provide seamless connections to the rest of the world, including into London, the Chinese Mainland, India and the US.”

According to Mr Lau, there is hope the reunion will also encourage inbound visitors from Europe, the US, Canada and key Asian markets – all ready to explore the Cairns region. 

“Not only is this an important route for customers travelling in and out of Tropical North Queensland, but it is also an incredibly valuable port for cargo and the trade economy,” he said.

“Cathay Pacific will support local live fish, meat and seasonal fruit exporters predominately, with expertise to manage deliveries across a range of industries.” 

Thousands of international tourists are expected to welcome the Year of the Snake in Tropical North Queensland in 2025, and the alignment of Cathay Pacific’s services throughout this period is expected to draw even more visitors to Cairns for the celebrations. 

Tourism Minister and Member for Cairns Michael Healy said Hong Kong and Chinese Mainland tourists can celebrate by booking a trip to Cairns on Cathay Pacific. 

“This announcement comes after I led a delegation to Hong Kong last August to meet with Cathay Pacific, to map out their return to Cairns after five years out of the market. I am so proud to be part of the team who brought Cathay Pacific back,” he said. 

“Cathay Pacific returning to Cairns is something not only the tourism industry has been waiting for, but also our agriculture, aquaculture and international student sectors. 

“This will be welcomed across our business community and I expect it will see a rekindling of the healthy relationship between Cairns and Mainland China and the significant economic benefits it brings.”

Mr Healy said the reunion will lead to growth in tourism numbers, growth in the export market, and growth in the Far North regional economy. 

“The flights will inject almost 27,000 seats over the season, carrying up to 13,000 inbound international visitors who will spend an estimated $20 million, and support more jobs in the Cairns region,” he said.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen welcomed the return of Cathay Pacific to further boost international visitor numbers to the destination during the shoulder season. 

“Before the pandemic we relied on international visitors to boost numbers during summer, especially during the Chinese New Year season,” he said. 

“This 14-week season has the potential to bring a $20 million boost to the Tropical North Queensland economy helping to support the one in five jobs in tourism year-round.” 

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Festival of Spirits returns and Have your say on healthcare.

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