Melbourne now closer on our map

THE TIDE, or perhaps the airwaves, may be about to turn for the Fraser Coast’s airline economy.

A buoyant Anne Nioa told yesterday’s meeting of the Fraser Coast council that after extensive negotiations with the airline, QantasLink advised her on Tuesday night that “through flights” to Melbourne and Sydney were now available from Hervey Bay.

Passengers will disembark at Brisbane with their boarding passes in hand for the second leg.

The announcement breathes new life into plans to establish a direct link with the Victorian capital after the global financial crisis had appeared to bring them down to earth.

The QantasLink website was yesterday offering through flights from Hervey Bay to Sydney on Saturday, January 16, for a possible $149 one way.

“At the moment a flight to Brisbane costs about $120,” Ms Nioa said, “so in essence you can get to Sydney for just $30 more.

“Your baggage and ticketing is done in Hervey Bay, so it’s pretty seamless.”

The one-way service to Melbourne for the same date had a best price of $270.

“With the Mary Poppins musical on in Melbourne next year it gives people here an added opportunity to be there.

“It also means we may be able to pick up some return business from Poppins fans who want to come and see the birthplace of her creator.”

Ms Nioa, along with Fraser Coast tourism, had held ongoing negotiations with QantasLink regional manager David de Bruin during the year.

“The healthier the relationship between council and tourist board and airline, the easier it is to negotiate.”

When she met with Mr de Bruin on Tuesday night he told her the through flights were “going gangbusters”.

“They’re absolutely delighted with the response since they went online during the last two weeks.

“It’s lovely to have competition in the market place. It opens up another market which is great.

“If the growth is there and people start to use the service then they may look at other services like direct flights.

“Statistics show the easier it is to get to a place the more people will go that way.”

The positive news comes at the end of a challenging year for the Fraser Coast airport during which Jetstar cut its Sydney to Hervey Bay service.

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