Jetstar is adding two new routes to its Canberra service with direct flights to and from both Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
The budget carrier, owned by Qantas, entered the Canberra market in December with flights to and from Brisbane.
Now Jetstar has announced that daily flights to Melbourne will begin on July 1, with the Gold Coast service starting in mid-September.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Jetstar’s Brisbane-Canberra route had proven successful over the past five months, with more than 80 per cent of seats sold.
“This is a real vote of confidence from Jetstar in the Canberra market,” he said.
“It’s going to work both ways for us: it’s going to be great for Canberrans who want to get to the Gold Coast or down to Melbourne.
“But it’s also going to open the door for thousands of extra tourists to be able to get to Canberra in an affordable way.”
Canberrans will be able to fly directly to and from the Gold Coast from mid-September. (ABC News: Tara Cassidy)
‘A game-changer for us’
While new flights might make it easier for Canberrans to enjoy a Melbourne or Gold Coast getaway, it is the potential influx of inbound visitors that the ACT government and tourism operators are focusing on.
“Visit Canberra will work with Jetstar on cooperative marketing campaigns to promote the new services,” Mr Barr said.
“Melbourne is our second biggest inbound market after Sydney, so it’s going to be an easy opportunity for us to grow our Victorian tourism and particularly short-break tourism over weekends.
“Now to have four airlines flying [to Melbourne] and competing, really is fantastic news.
“One of the challenges for us is that it’s often been cheaper to fly to Bali or to other parts of Australia than it has been to fly into Canberra, so this is a game-changer for us.”
Canberra Region Tourism Industry Council chief executive, Naomi Dale, agreed the new services would “make a big difference”.
“It really gives us access to a whole new set of people who otherwise would not make the time to travel to Canberra,” she said.
“Just the way that Canberra is perceived as an expensive place to visit or travel to, it will make a huge difference having access to that budget airline.”
From July, four airlines will be flying between Canberra and Melbourne. (ABC News)
International flights back on the radar
Mr Barr also said Canberra was “edging closer” to the return of international flights, with talks ongoing with Australian and overseas carriers.
“Piece by piece we are rebuilding the aviation network out of Canberra,” he said.
“We’ll have some further announcements, we hope, in the months ahead.”
Canberra Airport chief executive Stephen Byron offered further details, saying Qatar Airways had been set to resume daily flights to Canberra but a shortage of planes had forced them to delay the restart.
He said the airport was also in close contact with Singapore Airlines.
“I was up in Singapore a couple of weeks ago talking to Singapore Airlines and it’s very much on their radar as international travel picks up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Byron said mask-wearing in the airport terminal was still being heavily policed, despite restrictions continuing to ease across the country.
He said he hoped the airport’s mask mandates would be lifted mid-week.
“What amazes me is it’s taken 10 weeks already,” he said.
“You can be in a nightclub for four or five hours and dance until 3am and drink and stand up, and none of that needs a mask, then surely sitting quietly in an airport lounge cannot be more dangerous than that.”
Posted 52m ago52 minutes agoMon 9 May 2022 at 1:10am, updated Just nowMon 9 May 2022 at 2:02am