Premier Anna Bligh today announced the signing of a deal that paves the way for the future delivery of additional flights into Cairns.

The Premier told a Statewide Tourism Forum in Brisbane that new services could be announced as early as pre Christmas, under a deal expected to deliver up to 300,000 extra passengers over the next two and a half years.

Ms Bligh said the agreement between Cairns International Airport and low-fares airline Jetstar had the potential to provide a huge boost to jobs in the local tourism industry.

“This is great news for the Cairns tourism industry, and for the local businesses which will reap the benefits,” Ms Bligh said.

“As one of the tourism capitals of Queensland, Cairns has been hit hard by the Global Financial Crisis.

“The announcement by Qantas last year that it was cancelling 14 flights from Japan to Cairns was a huge blow to the local industry. It meant a loss of 1,603 seats a week – or 208, 309 passengers over 2 and a half years.

“That is why our government has been working with business, with airlines and with the Cairns International Airport, to return stability to the local tourism industry.

“This deal delivering up to 300,000 passenger seats is just the shot in the arm Cairns tourism needs.

“The Queensland Government will be working with all parties to ensure the new flights deliver the results Cairns tourism needs, through ongoing marketing initiatives.

“According to growth projections from the Cairns Airport, the additional international flights are expected to inject more than $220 million into the local economy in direct tourism spending, and will help create up to 2,000 new jobs.

“This deal will mean more tourist in the region, and more money being injected into the local economy.

“Our government is committed to supporting these kinds of major tourism initiatives in Far North Queensland.

“We’re investing $3.4 million in tourism marketing for Far North Queensland this financial year alone.

“We will continue to work with all parties to ensure we get maximum bang for a our buck through targeted marketing campaigns.”

Far North Queensland MPs Desley Boyle, Steve Wettenhall, Jason O’Brien and Curtis Pitt welcomed the announcement which will mean more jobs in their local communities, at a time when many are suffering from the economic downturn.

Jetstar has confirmed it has secured a long term airport agreement with satisfactory terms with Cairns International Airport.

“This agreement is important to us and provides a platform for sustainable future growth considerations,” Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan said.

“By example it allows Jetstar to work closely in the future with Cairns International Airport and the Queensland Government in both considering and jointly identify growth opportunities for the benefit of the tourism industry in north Queensland.”

Ms Bligh congratulated the new owners of the Cairns Airport (CAPL) on their efforts to secure this long term agreement with Jetstar, to build international business and tourism opportunities in the State’s Far North.

“This is a great example of privatisation delivering major benefits for the Queensland economy and for the local community,” Ms Bligh said.

“The local tourism industry has suffered major setbacks in the past year, but this agreement will ensure it can start to rebuild.”