Tourism officials along with Cairns Airport General Manager Kevin Brown, are always quick to the media announcing "new flights" when their hard work to rebuild our airport is successful. Fair enough.
Changes that are damaging to the Cairns tourist economy however are swept under the rug. No fancy announcements, no taxpayer-funded cocktail parties when flights are summarily pulled. Here's two issues that are likely to present significant problems to the Cairns tourism industry, undoing for some the fragile recovery that's been underway.
QANTAS SERVICE REDUCTIONS
Effective 23 August, Qantas flight QF921 from Cairns to Sydney at 6:20 AM is no more. This is going to prove an enormous barrier to international tourists visiting Cairns, who have long relied on this flight to connect with important international connections to North America. US and Canadian tourists are already dudded by the lack of direct flights from Cairns to Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Vancouver, required to backtrack to Sydney to get the bloody hell out. QF921 is normally packed with North Americans making connections. It's gone shortly.
With QF921 now gone, many will face an unwanted night at a Sydney Airport hotel, and may now skip Cairns altogether. A blow especially for Port Douglas and Palm Cove, popular destinations for Yanks and Canucks.
And for those who can utilise Jetstar "We Hate People" Airlines, this adds baggage schlepping, terminal transfers, and general Sydney Airport abuse to our visitors right as they're preparing to depart and tell their friends about Oz. With no baggage interlining (automatic transfer) by Jetstar, passengers must collect their bags, wrestle them into the known horrors of Sydney Airport terminal buses, quite often up stairs, to their departure check-in counter.
Perhaps this service reduction is a ploy by Qantas to tap into the Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King $8M LNP aviation slush fund - and we'll find these flights returned in the future.
UNITED AIRLINES FOLLIES
The Cairns Airport routine promotes "special" airfares for partner airlines. They've recently been putting up links on the net to this set of "Special UA Fares to Los Angeles" directly from Cairns (actually, with two stops in Guam and Honolulu).
These so called "special fares" are available on only four days out of 30 in November. With the balance of the month showing economy fares of up to $10,836! What kind of shitty partner is United Airlines to Cairns? Fares from Cairns to Japan and Mainland USA destinations are routinely triple on United Airlines compared to Jetstar and Cathay. Is it any wonder UA can't get the frequency up above twice a week?
What is the Cairns Airport doing to not just entice airlines to Cairns, but get them to operate in a competitive and tourism-useful environment? It would seem bugger all. . .
We'll soon tell you about the enormous issue that will likely cripple the new announced flights from Shanghai to Cairns, and the Chinese tourist market. . . .