Qantas has today announced it will help maintain critical transport links to key regional cities, following Virgin Australia’s decision to exit a number of markets.
Subject to state borders opening, Qantas will launch new flights from Brisbane to Port Macquarie. The flights will be operated up to five times per week with the airline’s Q400 turboprop aircraft, adding more than 700 seats on the route each week.
Qantas will also look to backfill capacity on other regional routes, with flights added in line with demand and an easing of travel restrictions.
QantasLink CEO John Gissing said the new flights would help maintain travel options for regional communities and drive much-needed tourism.
“As the national carrier, and the country’s largest regional airline, we have an important role to play in driving tourism and helping the industry get back on its feet,” said Mr Gissing.
“We also know how important air travel is for regional communities, for residents and business travellers. We’re pleased to be able to support customers with ongoing connectivity where there is demand.”
The new Brisbane-Port Macquarie flights are contingent on an opening of State borders.
“We know there is significant pent up demand for domestic travel with Australians wanting to explore their own backyard,” added Mr Gissing.
“We expect the new flights to Port Macquarie will be popular with Queensland travellers looking to visit the beautiful coastal town so we hope an easing of travel restrictions will make this possible.
“These extra flights are also another step towards our recovery and getting more of our people back to work.”
The schedule and fares for the new Brisbane-Port Macquarie service will be available when the date for the border opening is announced.
The new regional flights come as Qantas steps up its calls for border openings based on medical risk assessments and a common definition of what constitutes a COVID hotspot. The national carrier is now encouraging its employees – more than 20,000 of whom have been stood down since April due to border closures – to sign a petition in support of “Safely Open Our Borders”.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Qantas has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage customers to book with greater flexibility, as well as to improve safety and peace-of-mind when travelling domestically through its Fly Well program.