Japan to Cairns daily trial is just the ticket
LONG-awaited direct daily flights between Osaka and Cairns could become permanent after a trial period later this year.
Jetstar is to operate daily flights, up from five a week, during the peak season from July 13 and September 1, adding nearly 8700 seats.
Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive officer David Hall said the extra seats were in response to demand.
He said the low-cost carrier was "testing the market" and depending upon the success would consider permanent daily flights.
Mr Hall said the 40 per cent increase in seat capacity followed "double digit" growth from Japan.
"The Japanese are coming back with a resurgence," Mr Hall said.
"The increased capacity is almost back to the levels of before (the drop in Japanese tourism numbers)."
Mr Hall said he believed the company's Japanese domestic services were also feeding passengers on to the direct flights to Cairns.
While he did not have figures he believed "a large number" of the 600,000 passengers Jetstar Japan had carried to date were connecting to the Cairns flights.
Cairns Airport chief executive officer Kevin Brown said last month there were 17 per cent more passengers on the Osaka route than in January last year.
"This reflects more Japanese coming to Cairns as well as more Australians travelling to Japan," he said.
"We are confident the growth can continue and Jetstar are supporting it and showing their confidence in our destination."
Tourism Tropical North Queensland sales and marketing director Brian Hennessy said the extra flights were in line with TTNQ's key strategic goals to increase Japanese services.
He said TTNQ had a goal of 200,000 Japanese visitors by 2015, growing from its existing market share of 29 per cent of all Japanese visitors to Australia and 53 per cent to Queensland which totalled 91,743 for the year ended September 2012.
Jetstar, meanwhile, is still ruling out direct services to Singapore, a priority for TTNQ and the airport.
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Taking off: Jetstar CEO David Hall, TTNQ director Brian Hennessy and Cairns Airport boss Kevin Brown are all thrilled about daily flights being launched between Osaka and Cairns. Picture: ANNA ROGERS