General News

28 June, 2024

Cathay returns

CATHY Pacific is returning to Cairns after five years with seasonal flights as discussions continue for a permanent service.

By Nick Dalton

Cathay Pacific will use an Airbus A330 with 251 seats on the seasonal services from Hong Kong to Cairns return. Picture: Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific will use an Airbus A330 with 251 seats on the seasonal services from Hong Kong to Cairns return. Picture: Cathay Pacific

Cairns Airport is closing in on international pre-COVID seat capacity for the first time with the return of Cathay Pacific flights between Hong Kong and Cairns from December.

The airline will operate services on a two-class configured Airbus A330 aircraft three times per week between December 17, 2024 and March 29, 2025, covering the peak Christmas holiday period and Chinese New Year festivities.

Tourism Minister Michael Healy said the deal came after he led a delegation to Hong Kong last August to meet Cathay Pacific to map out their return to Cairns after five years out of the market.

“Cathay Pacific returning to Cairns is something, not only the tourism industry has been waiting for, but also our agriculture, aquaculture and international student sectors,” he said.

“This will be welcomed across our business community, and I expect it will see a rekindling of the healthy relationship between Cairns and China and the significant eonomic benefits it brings.

“It will lead to growth in tourism numbers, growth in our export market and growth in our Far North regional economy.” The flights are expected to bring in 13,000 passengers who will spend $20 million.

Cairns Airport chief executive officer Richard Barker said it was “a significant and highly positive announcement for our region as we enter a new era in the relationship between Cairns Airport and Cathay Pacific”.

“We are pleased to welcome Cathay Pacific back to Cairns at a time when we expect passenger demand to be strong, including the peak Christmas travel period and Chinese New Year,” he said.

“This is an injection of nearly 27,000 seats over the season. It is also a fantastic opportunity for our local exporters to gain direct access to Hong Kong and Mainland China.”

Cathay Pacific southwest Pacific regional general manager Frosti Lau said it had been nearly five years since Cathay Pacific had flown out of Cairns and “we are thrilled to be bringing our services back”.

“This seasonal service will offer direct access to Hong Kong and provide seamless connections to the rest of the world, including into London, the Chinese mainland, India and the US,” he said. 

“It will also encourage inbound visitors from Europe, the US, Canada and key Asian markets – all ready to explore the stunning Cairns region.

“Not only is this an important route for customers travelling in and out of Tropical North Queensland, but it is also an incredibly valuable port for cargo and the trade economy. Cathay Pacific will support local live seafood, meat and seasonal fruit exporters predominately, with expertise to manage deliveries across a range of industries.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive Mark Olsen said the return of Cathay Pacific would further boost international visitor numbers to the destination during the off-season.

“Before the pandemic we relied on international visitors to boost numbers during summer, especially during the Chinese New Year season,” he said.

“This 15-week season has the potential to bring a $20 million boost to the Tropical North Queensland economy helping to support the one-in-five jobs in tourism year-round.”


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