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  • Renee Cluff

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    Flight deal set to deliver more Kiwi and American tourists to Cairns

    Tropical North Queensland is preparing to welcome more tourists from across the ditch, after the State Government announced a new deal with Air New Zealand to open up more flights between Cairns and Auckland.

    Already, the airline operates seasonal services between March and October but the three year deal is expected to expand flights to 12 months of the year.

    The ALP Member for Cairns, Michael Healy, says it will generate an additional 10,000 seats to inject an extra $10-million a year to the local economy and support more than 80 jobs.

    “The really important thing about this is that a lot of the US market, they’re a big visitation to north Queensland and Cairns and a lot of them go to New Zealand.

    “This will enable them to come straight into Cairns and save them going by Brisbane or Sydney or possibly even Melbourne.

    "The Kiwis and the US markets are very high yield markets.”

    The announcement follows the axing of a Manila-Cairns-Auckland service late last year, with Philippine Airlines opting to bypass Cairns and go direct to Auckland.

    The State Government had to provide an undisclosed sweetener to Air New Zealand through the government’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund to attract the extra flights.

    Mr Healy says to keep the service viable, agricultural exports to New Zealand will be required.

    “That airport is absolutely vital to our economy and one of the things we face as a region and a city is leisure destinations are considered by the airlines as a little bit risky and they tend to focus on the business class.”

    “We can fill the top of the plane with the seats to 70% loading and then we can fill the belly of the plane with some of our North Queensland produce.

    "That’s going to reduce the risk and guarantee that we’ll continue to get more flights here.”

    The deal follows the announcement that China Eastern Airlines will more than triple its Chinese New Year Season Cairns service, providing 36 flights between December and March.

    The number of China Southern Airlines flights from Guangzhou to Cairns over the same period will climb from three to four.