Airlines announce new Brisbane-Whitsundays services
Tourism industry looks forward to starting recovery.
Whitsundays tourism operators and businesses have been buoyed by news of services returning to the holiday hotspot from Brisbane.
Alliance Airlines took off first, announcing it would operate four direct flights a week from Brisbane to Whitsunday Coast Airport, from 22 June.
The announcements follow the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to allow travel and overnight stays around the state for Queenslanders.
Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Tash Wheeler said regaining air access to the region was a top priority for its recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus.
“Air access is crucial in ensuring the survival of our tourism industry; it has been one of the key concerns from operators as we’ve weathered through this uncertain time,” Ms Wheeler said.
“We are well and truly flying high on the road to recovery ... with two airlines announcing flights returning to the region for the first time since the end of March. What a week."
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the region was now well and truly open for business.
“Council and the team at Whitsunday Coast Airport have been working hard behind the scenes in negotiations with all airlines to reinstate flights to the region as soon as possible," Cr Willcox said.
“We are committed to getting flights back into the Whitsunday region and now having two airlines resuming flights so quickly will allow our tourism industry to kick start their recovery.”
WHALES MAKE A SPLASH IN THE WHITSUNDAYS
Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach Rooms Division Manager Michelle Hosking said the reservation line had come to life.
“Our reservation phone, which was dead quiet before that, is now going hot,” Ms Hosking said.
“It’s like everyone had cabin fever and they want to get out.”
Ms Hosking said the new flights were cause for more excitement and meant the hotel was looking at putting staff back on fulltime after many were stood down to part-time employment from late March.
Mantra Club Croc continued to operate through the pandemic lockdown, catering for small numbers of mine workers and corporate travellers
“Some days we were down to five rooms and when you have got 160 rooms, that is very quiet,” Ms Hosking said.
“Now we’re looking at putting those staff who were on reduced hours back to full hours sooner rather than later.”
Ms Hosking said she was looking forward to welcoming visitors from Brisbane using the new flights.
“Everyone is really excited because we have school holidays coming up and Brisbane has the largest number of people who want to go on holidays,” she said.
“Where else would you go for a holiday other than the Whitsundays.
“It’s only a short flight, under two hours, and you are in paradise.”