Qantas flight numbers will increase at Central Queensland airports. Picture: Evan Morgan
Qantas flight numbers will increase at Central Queensland airports. Picture: Evan Morgan

Eased restrictions boost flights at regional airports

EASED social distancing restrictions have allowed for increased travel throughout the state and opened the way for more flights at local airports.

Restrictions imposed by the government to counter the COVID-19 pandemic meant that in recent weeks Qantas had reduced the number of flights from Emerald to Brisbane to about two per week.

The next available flight is not scheduled until Friday, June 12 but the airline has revealed that flights are about to become more frequent.

According to the Qantas website, flights will commence operating Monday to Friday from June 15. Flights will be limited to one per day, with the first weekend flights to operate on July 4 and 5.

Seats on the June 12 flight are priced from $286 while ongoing flights start at $190.

Moranbah Airport will also set for increased air traffic with two flights scheduled for next week before they’re bumped to five flights between June 15-19, although no return flights will be available on June 17.

The regional airport will welcome its first weekend flights on June 4 and 5.

Emerald Chamber of Commerce president Victor Cominos said the increased flights would not only benefit the region’s tourism operators, but also local businesses and airport staff.

“Any increase in services will improve the current situation,” Mr Cominos said.

“The more services, the more frequently, the cheaper the air fair and the better it is for the community, not just for people but for business and people with medical concerns who need to travel to and from Brisbane.”

Mr Cominos said the frequent flights to and from Emerald would also benefit airport staff after numbers had been reduced due to the lack of business.

“So, the frequencies are definitely most welcome. It will create a sort of domino effect if you like,” he said.

Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Kerry Hayes said the increase in flight numbers is a positive sign that things are slowly returning to normal for the region.

“This is an extremely important announcement for the Central Highlands,” he said.

“It shows that we are heading back to regular public transport (RPT) flights and away from charters.

“Certainly, with the State Government restrictions lifting and travel permitted within Queensland, we welcome and encourage any visitors to our wonderful region.

“However, it is also important for us all to continue to be vigilant – practise social distancing, maintain personal hygiene and stay home if unwell.”