Opportunity for thousands more travellers to come to Cairns

One of Cairns Airport’s most successful international airlines has announced a huge increase to local operations in a historic move labelled “a testament to the region’s recovery”.

Singapore Airlines officials have today (Monday) confirmed the Airbus A350-900 widebody aircraft will be deployed between Cairns and Singapore four times per week from March 2024, for the first time ever.

This change will inject thousands of additional seats annually into the Cairns market, with more than 50 per cent extra available seats per flight compared to the current, smaller Boeing 737-8 services.

Singapore Airlines’ current capacity sits at 1,540 seats per week to and from Cairns, and this will increase to 2,424 seats per week from 31 March 2024, in time for Easter travel.

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said the additional seats would come at an ideal time and further bolster the post-pandemic recovery.

“These upgraded flights are a win for both travellers and local industries, who will benefit from the increase of visitors to our region,” he said.

“Singapore Airlines has an extensive global network and since returning to Cairns in early 2022 has been very popular with inbound visitors but also Cairns locals travelling overseas on holidays or to visit friends and relatives.

“The larger aircraft boasts 40 business class seats and 263 in economy, meaning we have a great opportunity to attract high-spending visitors to our region, either travelling for leisure or for business events such as those hosted by the Cairns Convention Centre.”

Singapore Airlines Regional Vice President South West Pacific, Louis Arul, said the deployment of the Airbus A350-900 would signify a historic moment in the airline’s operations to Cairns.

“The A350-900 aircraft’s arrival on 31 March marks the first time a 303-seater SIA wide-body aircraft will operate a scheduled passenger flight on the Singapore-Cairns route,” he said.

“Over the course of 2021, SIA supported local producers through the Government’s IFAM programme, deploying the A350-900 on cargo missions only.

“Deploying the widebody, 303-seat A350-900 for passenger services in 2024 is a testament to Cairns’ recovery as a destination and its appeal to international visitors. The increase in capacity, for both passengers and cargo, will support the local tourism industry as well as local producers and I am excited to see the aircraft land on 31 March.”

Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Member for Cairns Michael Healy welcomed the additional seats coming into Cairns as another sign of the rebounding visitor economy for the Tropical North Queensland region.

“Getting more services back running from our Asian neighbours is a real boost for the state’s tourism operators,” he said.

“With these additional seats even more arriving passengers will be snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, walking through one of the world’s oldest and most picturesque rainforests and tasting some of Queensland’s finest tropical cuisine.

“Importantly the widebody aircraft will open up opportunities for the region’s exporters to target additional markets and presents further opportunity for investment in the region.

“This expansion of seats by Singapore Airlines is yet another successful outcome through the support of the $200 million joint government and industry Attracting Aviation Investment Fund.”

The larger aircraft also has significant capacity to uplift freight, meaning local seafood and fresh produce exports will be able to fly direct from Cairns to Southeast Asia and beyond, rather than having to fly or be trucked south to be accommodated.

“Time to market is critical for most of the produce being exported from our region, so being able to uplift directly from Cairns means it is fresher on arrival and can command a better price for our local producers,” Mr Barker said.