Qld quarantine hub to launch international routes
DIRECT international flights could return to Cairns from multiple locations as part of a bid for the city to host 1000 quarantine travellers at once.
Negotiations between Far North hotel operators and the state and federal governments are under way ahead of Queensland accepting an extra 500 Australians returning from overseas per week.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said Cairns and Port Douglas had the capacity to accept all 500 in fortnightly hotel lockdown, totting up to a thousand at any one time after the first week.
He said that would likely mean direct flights from the likes of Singapore and Dubai and potentially other locations including the UK, New Zealand and Europe.
"It would be direct flights into Cairns," he said.
"We have all the capacity to do it, so why would you fly them to Brisbane or Sydney and then up to here? Where the flights come from depends on where the numbers are."
It remains to be seen whether Cairns will take in the whole 500-per-week increase.
"We can get 500 flying into town, then the next week another 500 will arrive," he said.
"They stay for two weeks, so that's 1000 rooms being taken at once."
Cairns MP Michael Healy said airlines would make a commercial decision on whether to launch direct international flights - although he suggested federal subsidies may be necessary to make it economically viable.
"We just have to wait and see," he said.
Health Minister Steven Miles acknowledged "complications but doubled down on the strong interest in establishing a quarantine hub in Cairns.
"We'd certainly urge Cairns hotels to consider whether they could assist us with hotel quarantine," he said.
"We've got a team from Queensland Health who will be seeking expressions of interest from hotels.
"We know that Cairns has both an international airport as well as it is suffering significantly from the closed international borders.
"So if that's a way for us to inject economic activity, create jobs in Cairns, then we'd certainly like to do that.
"There are complications and clearly we need to work through those, but if there are hotels in Cairns right now that would like to participate in our hotel quarantine program, we'd urge them to come forward."
Originally published as 'Direct flights': Cairns quarantine hub to launch international routes