The Palaszczuk Government will today partner with Cairns Airport and the local council to test the market for a new airline to transport freight and tourists between Tropical North Queensland and Asia.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones today announced an Expressions of Interest process for a new airline to partner with the government, Cairns Airport and Cairns Regional Council.

“Improving our tourism and trade links with Asia is crucial when it comes to growing the Cairns economy,” she said.

“This process will see us actively engage with airlines keen to fly between Tropical North Queensland and key trade and tourism hubs in Asia.

“We know this region boasts some of the most iconic tourism experiences on the planet. But we also recognise the importance of the Tropical North as a trade hub for Queensland – particularly given our commitment to strengthen trade ties in southeast Asia.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the government recognised local tourism operators had done it tough over the last 12 months.

“We’re working hard to support local tourism operators to grow this great industry,” he said.

“This Expression of Interest process will test the market and allow airlines to put forward proposals to the government.

“The EOI will be assessed based on the proposed frequency, route and duration of flights, ability to shift in the order of 60 tonnes of freight a week and a range of other factors important to both the tourism, aquaculture and agriculture industries.

“The freight component will predominantly be live seafood, some of which requires dangerous goods certification, plus other agricultural produce and general freight.

“To be successful these services will need to be self-sustaining in the medium and long term.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said Council valued any initiative that supported the tourism, agricultural and fishing industries.

“Maintaining outbound international air freight capacity from Cairns to Asia is very important.

“Additionally, any initiative that results in increased international visitation, overnight expenditure and supporting tourism jobs is very welcome,” he said.

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