During the school holidays there were more flights from Brisbane than pre-COVID times. Picture: Supplied
During the school holidays there were more flights from Brisbane than pre-COVID times. Picture: Supplied

FLIGHT FRENZY: Airport exceeds pre-COVID numbers

MORE flights landed in the region from the state's capital than pre-COVID times during the September school holidays.

Now plans are in the pipeline to boost flights further when the border reopens.

Over the past two weeks, 23 flights a week were landing at Whitsunday Coast Airport from Brisbane.

Before COVID, the number of incoming flights was about 16.

Whitsunday Coast Airport's Craig Turner said the flights were also arriving full.

"Not only do we have an uplift in arrivals … but that was also matched by demand that reflected really good load factors," the chief operating officer of aviation and tourism said.

Whitsunday Coast Airport’s chief operating officer of aviation and tourism Craig Turner said there would be three Jetstar flights a week if the border reopens to New South Wales on November 1. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Whitsunday Coast Airport’s chief operating officer of aviation and tourism Craig Turner said there would be three Jetstar flights a week if the border reopens to New South Wales on November 1. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

The influx of travellers during the school holidays meant that in September, 20,000 people passed through the airport.

With the border set to open to New South Wales travellers from November 1, Mr Turner expected this number would only increase.

Three Jetstar flights from Sydney will land in the Whitsundays every week from next month.

However, Mr Turner said staff would work with airlines to increase the number of flights.

"We expect there will be strong demand from the southern states and I honestly don't expect three (flights) will be enough," he said.

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"We'll look at the load factors and try and encourage the airlines to upscale their schedule.

"Daily direct out of Sydney would be excellent."

A travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand was revisited last week as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was likely to be movement on the travel arrangement "very soon".

However, Mr Turner said the focus for Whitsunday Coast Airport would remain on securing flights along the east coast of Australia.

"Once (numbers) come back from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, we can use their infrastructure and their imports to make an international arrival point and then we just bolt on a domestic sector," he said.