Cairns International Aviation Route Development

Project Description

Cairns Airport is widely recognised as one of the most significant economic stakeholders and drivers in our region, and the airport and associated facilities are critical pieces of economic infrastructure in Tropical North Queensland.

Currently direct aviation services from Cairns Airport fly to 8 international destinations year round and 11 major cities and centres within Australia linked to a strong regional network.  Cairns Airport already connects key visitor source markets to the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region via direct flights from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Bali, Manila and Auckland, while flights to Port Moresby service the Government, resources and business sectors.

There are opportunities to expand international connectivity for Cairns and thereby grow access from key international visitor source markets in Europe, Asia and North America.

A project is currently underway to secure year round direct international services 3 times a week from mainland China into Cairns.

The “Cairns – Australia’s Tropical Holiday Resort Destination” project is part of the Queensland Government’s ‘Connecting with Asia’ initiative and is being delivered by a consortium which includes Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ), Cairns Airport, Cairns Regional Council, Tourism and Events Queensland and Tourism Australia.

State Government funding will support a proposed destination campaign which is designed as a cost effective, focused marketing strategy to position Cairns as an international leisure destination from a major city in China rather than as a 2 night component of a 7 night Australian experience for the Chinese market.

The Federal Government, via Tourism Australia, has also committed funds to support direct services from mainland China.

New international aviation routes directly benefit tourism and international education and support growth in regional exports and the region’s aviation industry infrastructure and services.

A three times a week service from mainland China would significantly grow total international visitor numbers by approximately 28,000 a year and contribute $43M per annum to the local economy creating 280 new jobs in the region.  Once the service increases to daily it would contribute $103M per annum in gross regional product and a further 380 new jobs (Cummings Economics, 2015).

If regional produce is also carried on the outbound services there is potential for a further significant contribution to the regional economy through freight export value.

A nonstop flight from mainland China will be excellent for the positioning of International students for the James Cook University and Central Queensland University Cairns campuses.

Policy Proponents

The project and campaign initiative is being led by Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Cairns Airport with the participation of Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and Tourism Australia.


That the State Government and Federal Government continue to commit funds to support Tropical North Queensland destination campaigns in key visitor source markets as new routes are secured.


Kevin Byrne, CEO, Advance Cairns
Ph: 07 4080 2900

PROPONENTS: Cairns Airport, TTNQ