Regional Express (REX) has announced the launch of direct flights between Cairns and Townsville to commence in the New Year. The one-hour flight will depart from Cairns on Saturdays at 09:00 and from Townsville on Sundays at 17:30.
While there is only one return flight per week currently on the cards, REX says this "modest service" is likely to increase once their new routes are firmly underway.
"We'll be starting these regulated routes on the 1st of January. We do imagine the frequency will be more as time goes on," says REX Corporate Communications Manager Alicia Chapple.
Virgin Australia abandoned the Cairns – Townsville route in January of this year. The airline had previously offered the service six times per week, leaving QantasLink as the only option for those wanting to fly between the two North Queensland hubs.
REX's announcement brings a competitive edge to travelling in the region's North. At present, the cheapest REX flights between Cairns and Townsville cost $118.65 each way, approximately the same as QantasLink. Although double the price of a Greyhound bus trip (an option for many North Queenslanders), it is also six times faster.
Most residents of the Far North know the bitumen journey between Cairns and Townsville all too well. The long stretch of the Bruce Highway couriers James Cook University students to and fro during semester breaks; Cowboys fans on weekends during NRL season; schoolies keen to run amuck on Magnetic Island; and families travelling for weddings, birthdays or short breaks.
Making the four-and-a-half-hour journey (factoring in an obligatory stop-off in Cardwell) is nothing unusual up North, but the announcement of new Cairns – Townsville flights will be welcome news to those who know the perils of the wet season, when the highway is inevitably cut at Ingham, 111 kilometres north of Townsville.
The Cairns – Townsville service comes after five regulated air transit routes in Queensland were awarded to REX earlier this month. This includes two Brisbane to Toowoomba services with additional stopovers in towns such as St George and Birdsville, and a Gulf Route touching down in Normanton, Burketown and Mount Isa.
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