More direct flights to Geraldton would be “economically challenging”, says Qantas executive John Gissing

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Qantas group executive, associated airlines and services John Gissing at the 2021 WA Regional Tourism Conference in Geraldton.
Camera IconQantas group executive, associated airlines and services John Gissing at the 2021 WA Regional Tourism Conference in Geraldton. Credit: Phoebe Pin/Geraldton Guardian

Qantas has announced six new routes in WA over the past 12 months, but it could be some time before more direct flights to Geraldton become a reality.

Speaking at the WA Regional Tourism Conference in Geraldton on Tuesday, Qantas group executive, associated airlines and services, John Gissing gave delegates an update on how Australia’s aviation industry was weathering the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Gissing said 36 new routes across Australia had been announced to meet growing domestic travel demand, with Jetstar and Qantas capacity to reach 120 per cent and 107 per cent of pre-COVID levels respectively in the next financial year.

“The increase in demand is being helped by the government-supported half-price airfares and increasing stability on domestic borders, which is helping build confidence,” he said.

“Perth to Broome was our busiest route at one stage last year, and fast forward to today ... capacity up 30 per cent.

“Exmouth is another great example where with government support ... we have sold 18,000 tickets.”

But when asked what it would take to get more direct flights to Geraldton, Mr Gissing said there was no clear answer.

“We would love to know the answer to that but we have to be cautious right now and we can’t take risks ... we still have people stood down,” he said.

“We operate to over 70 regional destinations in this country but the economics make it very challenging, and the tyranny of distance with long routes and very small populations means it is a challenge for all of us.

“We know how important it is to keep Australia connected.

“It is just economically very challenging.”

Mr Gissing said destinations should continue to showcase their unique selling points in their advocacy for new routes.

“Our message is, keep asking because we are still looking for opportunities wherever we can find them,” he said. “Funds are limited, and don’t forget you have competition from other States.”

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