Treasurer Curtis Pitt was on the tarmac at the Cairns International Airport today to welcome passengers disembarking SilkAir flight MI828, the first into Cairns.

Aboard the flight were 19 senior airline executives and a team of international journalists, signalling the start of a new aviation chapter for Tropical North Queensland said Mr Pitt.

“This exciting announcement will open the door to a potential 20,000 extra travellers into Cairns every year,” Mr Pitt said.

“From today, SilkAir will fly three times a week between Singapore and Cairns offering both Business and Economy Class cabins on its latest Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

“This linkage with Singapore will better connect travellers from throughout Asia, India, the UK and Europe into Cairns, which we expect to generate up to $14 million in visitor expenditure in Cairns in the first year.

“Cairns is the only regional city in Australia SilkAir is flying into so we’ll be continuing to work with the airline on international marketing initiatives to build capacity.”

The Treasurer represented Tourism Minister Kate Jones at the event who said Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) had worked in partnership with SilkAir to promote the new route in key Asian and European visitor markets.

“Promotions have appeared across digital, print, radio, social media and outdoor advertising, featuring holiday packages to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Jones said.

“TEQ have also organised tours throughout the region for trade partners and media to explore the destination once the first service arrives at Cairns Airport.

“The groups will experience a ‘walkabout tour’ in Palm Cove, a visit to Cairns Tropical Zoo and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, as well as venturing inland to the Atherton Tablelands and out to the Great Barrier Reef among other things.

“Initiatives such as this boost Queensland’s international appeal, showcasing Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef as a premier holiday destination.”

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brown said the connectivity with Singapore that the new SilkAir service provides will be a great boost for the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef destination.

“It is exciting times here at Cairns Airport as we welcome SilkAir as a new international carrier to our city,” Mr Brown said.

“This Singapore service is a key link in our international network, giving holiday visitors from Asia and Europe a new option for easy access direct into Cairns.

“It also offers convenient new options for local people to travel overseas, whether to enjoy Singapore as a destination in its own right or to connect through to other destinations.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Alex de Waal said international market growth was critical for Tropical North Queensland, and the direct SilkAir flights were a step in the right direction.

“They will not only provide access to South East Asia, they also will provide access to India and our traditional markets of Europe and the United Kingdom,” he said.

“Feedback from the marketplace indicates there is significant demand for this service so we expect big things to happen.”