The announcement comes as Queensland borders officially opened to air travellers from the ACT today (25 September), with two weekly flights serving both destinations taking off from 23 October.
Canberra Airport head of aviation Michael Thomson said this was another great step in the restart of domestic aviation.
“We’ve done the numbers and we think there are approximately 50,000 people [per year] who travel between the Sunshine Coast and Canberra and they go in both directions,” he said.
“Not only will it provide Canberrans an opportunity to get out and enjoy a break somewhere warm, it will also provide an opportunity from those regions to come in and experience everything we have in Canberra and surrounds.”
The twice-weekly flights will operate out of Alliance’s 100-seat Fokker jet aircraft with a launch sale to the Sunshine Coast from $129 each way.
Launch fares between Canberra and Cairns will start at $249, with regular pricing starting at $275 one-way.
ACT Labor leader Andrew Barr said discussions with the airlines, which had begun before the election care-taker period, had carried onto an election pledge from the party.
“What I can announce today on behalf of ACT Labor is a commitment to these sorts of partnerships in a four-year $3 million fund to assist in rebuilding our domestic aviation networks,” Mr Barr said.
“We do so in recognition of a reality around international travel for the time being so it’s important to establish new direct flights from Canberra Airport around Australia.
“A medium-term objective once the Australia and New Zealand travel bubble opens up, is to work with the airport and tourism authorities on Canberra to New Zealand flights.”
There is still speculation about any further services from Virgin Airlines, after they announced 3,000 job cuts and a stop to their ATR aircraft route between Canberra and Sydney early last month.
Mr Thomson said the airport was still in discussions with the carrier, along with other airlines, about the service.
“We are in discussions with Virgin on how that will be serviced,” he said.
“We are confident that Qantas may fill the gap there and also confident that other players may take that route and we might have other partners flying between Canberra and Sydney.”
Mr Thomson also reported the airport would almost double services from 34 flights this week to 64 flights next week amid recent border announcements.
Mr Barr said he would continue working with the airport and other destinations for more flight options for Canberrans.
“Tasmania has put forward a date of 1 December of when they are going to be making some decisions, but they have also indicated they are looking to bring that forward for certain states and territories,” he said.
“I have been putting a case through to Tasmania that we are a safe destination and would be a good place to start and that sort of argument has been persuasive with the SA and Queensland governments.”