IT'S been a talking point for years, but the push for direct flights to and from Melbourne on the Fraser Coast could be possible by 2018 if regional demand for the service remains strong enough.

Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said the proposal could be one step closer if the region was able to sustain recent tourism figures and strong representation from airlines like Qantas, saying the chamber could continue talks "with a view to get it in a 12-month period".

Ms Holebrook said it was about seeing a lift in tourism figures, with Qantas needing a strong business case to get routes into the region.

"That would be a great goal, to get the flights by 2018. Qantas, when they were here, were adamant if we could talk to them about a proposal for more flights, they'd be willing to listen.

"They want to see a proposal from us about what might be a profitable route for them; they want to build on that."

Advancing Aviation Advisory group chairman Paul Truscott said he would "love to see it as much as the next person," but insisted there needed to be solid statistics before it became financially viable.

10 years of jets at Hervey Bay Airport - Qantaslink flight to Brisbane. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
10 years of jets at Hervey Bay Airport - Qantaslink flight to Brisbane. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle Alistair Brightman

"The airlines won't come in because a dozen people said 'Let's do it.' There needs to be more work done on it before it's considered a viable option," he said.

"I'd like to hope it's something we could work towards, and it's something the aviation group will be looking at."

Cr Truscott said there would need to be "an enormous amount of people flying in and out" for it to be viable for airlines.

Recent statistics from Tourism Research Australia found domestic holiday- makers to the Fraser Coast grew by 29.7% to 306,000 visitors in the year ending December 2016.

Marketing manager for Fraser Coast Tourism and Events Bradley Nardi said Melbourne travellers were going through Sydney and Brisbane to reach the Fraser Coast, with the routes "going very solid through their demand base".

But he said he couldn't anticipate direct airlines from the city in the short-term period.

"It's not at a point where we can get a business case for it... with any direct flight, there needs to be an underlying demand."

A QantasLink spokesperson said they were looking at different options, but had no plans to increase the number of flights to and from Hervey Bay."



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