AIR Niugini and Airlines PNG are likely to face competition in the busy Cairns-to- Port Moresby route from Qantas.
Qantas has applied to operate 12 weekly return flights between Cairns and Port Moresby.
The airline last week lodged a submission with the international air services commission for a capacity allocation for its regional airline, QantasLink, to operate on the Cairns to Port Moresby route.
The company plans to start flights in July.
The company said it was moving to take advantage of the growing business sector between PNG and Australia, and intended to operate 12 return services on the route each week.
Cairns Airport chief executive officer Stephen Gregg welcomed another new international service.
He said the announcement highlighted the airport’s importance as a regional hub with excellent capacity to service the burgeoning PNG resources and business sectors.
Tourism tropical north Queensland chief executive Rob Giason said the move “supports the activities of our business community to forge greater links with commerce in Papua New Guinea and fits brilliantly with our mining strategy”.
PNG’s economic growth is exciting leaders in the region.
Queensland treasurer Andrew Fraser says PNG is set to record “China-type” growth of 8% this year.
Fraser, who was in PNG last week for a trade mission, told an infrastructure summit in Brisbane PNG was on the cusp of “game-changing, nation-changing, development”.
He said he had been advised PNG’s economic growth was expected to hit 8% , following growth of around 5% last year.
Minister for tourism, arts and culture Charles Abel welcomed the move by Qantas to operate the Port Moresby-Cairns route.
Mr Abel said: “While Qantas does operate under a code share agreement with Air Niugini on the Brisbane and Cairns route, I am very pleased that Qantas is taking steps to operate independently as this will give more options to travelling public and other benefits of direct competition such as reduced fares.”
Airlines PNG also welcomed the Qantas move, but did not see it as a threat to their business.