Mackay Airport general manager Garry Porter. Picture: Tony Martin
Mackay Airport general manager Garry Porter. Picture: Tony Martin

Sky is the limit: Airport’s plan to ramp up travel

MACKAY Airport will ramp up its flight services to pre-coronavirus levels in an ambitious air travel reboot plan - just in time for the school holidays.

The airport's general manager Garry Porter said the easing of intrastate travel restrictions had buoyed his hopes to scale up services over the coming weeks.

"We have still got a couple of services per week to Rockhampton and Townsville, with daily services to Brisbane," Mr Porter said.

"We are trying to increase that so we can provide more in time for the upcoming school holidays.

"Increasing this capacity will make air travel more affordable."

Flights with Virgin from Mackay to Brisbane last week were $145 one-way.

While Mackay Airport has already reported increased demand for air travel since Sunday's announcement, there have been calls for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to focus her attention on interstate travellers.

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Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the tourism sector in Mackay and the Whitsundays was bleeding millions of lost tourism dollars each month due to border closures.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Glenn Hampson
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Glenn Hampson

Citing Tourism Queensland figures, Ms Frecklington said more than $376 million was spent by interstate tourists in Mackay and the Whitsundays each year.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk must keep her original promise and re-open Queensland to interstate tourists on July 10," she said.

"The only way to restart the Queensland economy is to provide certainty and re-open interstate borders.

"Businesses still have no certainty on whether the interstate border will remain closed until September."

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has called on the State Government to reopen the borders by June 26 to capitalise on the school holidays and tourist season.

He also wants an immediate lifting of lockdown restrictions in remote and indigenous communities.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Brendan Radke
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Brendan Radke

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A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk defended Queensland's response to the COVID-19 crisis and said a border review would occur as promised at the end of the month.

"Queensland's response to COVID-19 has contained the virus and saved lives," he said.

"(Ms Frecklington) would open our borders and risk a second wave of infection that would undo all the sacrifice Queenslanders have made and force them to take a backward step.

"As we have seen all-too recently, it only takes one COVID case to have the worst possible outcome when we lost a 30-year-man in Blackwater."