"Watch this space" Hopes airborne as talks with Cathay Pacific take flight
Cairns leaders trying to broker a reversal of Cathay Pacific's decision to suspend its Cairns to Hong Kong service have hinted a positive announcement could be imminent.
While all parties are remaining tight-lipped, Tropic Now understands Cathay Pacific is engaging in negotiations.
Tropic Now last week exclusively revealed that the airline will no longer service the route come October after more than 25 years of flights.
The announcement shocked and dismayed the tourism and agriculture sectors and sparked a rare bipartisan effort involving both levels of government as well as industry stakeholders and Cairns Airport to negotiate a potential incentive deal.
Advance Cairns Chairman Trent Twomey, Cairns Chamber of Commerce President Nick Loukas and Cairns MP Michael Healy held an emergency meeting with Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones this afternoon.
"We found her extremely receptive and she has been quite proactive and we look forward to hearing some good announcements from the Queensland Government between now and the June budget," Mr Twomey told Tropic Now.
"We didn’t discuss specific numbers, what we discussed is ensuring we have the right policy setting to maintain direct access to Asia.
"Watch this space."
A spokesman for Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said he is also remaining optimistic.
“They’re all working together,” he said.
“All is not lost.”
State Member for Cairns Michael Healy was more cautious.
"In our discussions we've become aware of what Cathay Pacific's challenges are and they've indicated to us what they're asking and that’s being assessed at the moment," he said.
"That will be decided by a range of people and it’s got to be the appropriate outcome, if the money’s just to prop them up for another 12 months, that’s not the best result.
"We’re hoping for the best outcome and we’ll wait and see what happens.”
Tourism Minister Kate Jones has said the State Government can access its $10 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund to support any deal.
Tropic Now understands Cairns Airport is the single point of contact with Cathay Pacific and CEO Norris Carter has interrupted his annual leave to work on the negotiations.