Alliance Airlines will launch scheduled flights to Canberra for the first time, with a new twice-weekly Canberra-Sunshine Coast service from 23 October 2020.
The same aircraft, a Fokker 100 with 100 Economy class seats, will continue from the Sunshine Coast to Cairns. Passengers can travel from Canberra to Cairns on a single flight number without changing planes.
Launch fares between Canberra and Sunshine Coast start from $129 one-way including 20kg of checked baggage, and are on sale until 2 October. Flights from Canberra to Cairns with Alliance Airlines are available from $249 one-way. There are currently no direct flights from Canberra to either destination.
Although Alliance Airlines operates some flights on behalf of Virgin Australia, these flights will be marketed and operated by Alliance Airlines in its own right. As Alliance Airlines does not have a frequent flyer program, it won’t be possible to earn frequent flyer points on the new Canberra flights.
Here’s the schedule on Mondays (the flights run two hours later on Fridays):
- QQ2351 Cairns 07:00 – Maroochydore 09:05/09:40 – Canberra 12:40
- QQ2352 Canberra 13:15 – Maroochydore 14:20/14:55 – Cairns 17:15
The new route is squarely aimed at sun-seeking Canberrans, following the decision from the Queensland government to allow again travel from the ACT from last Friday. Some Queenslanders may also choose now to holiday in Canberra as they’ll no longer be required to quarantine in a hotel when they return home.
Alliance Airlines has traditionally focused on the charter market. But it has recently been launching new scheduled passenger flights using its own sales channels, such as Brisbane-Proserpine flights which commenced in June. With almost no international flights and its mining charters relatively unaffected, Alliance Airlines has been one of the best-performing airlines in Australia throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other airlines adding flights to Canberra
Capitalising on the relaxed border restrictions, Qantas also launched new Canberra-Gold Coast flights last Friday. Like the Alliance Airlines service, this is a new route for Qantas rather than a resumption of an old flight. We’ve seen similar things elsewhere in the world, with many airlines operating brand new routes as COVID-19 restrictions ease rather than just reinstating old ones.
Regional Express Airlines also said recently it is “progressing discussions” with several cities including Canberra, regarding the launch of new services.
Since the demise of Tigerair, only Qantas, Virgin Australia and Fly Pelican have been serving Canberra Airport. Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways have also suspended the airport’s only international flights. Singapore Airlines will not return.
The reopening of state borders and the new Alliance Airlines flights to the Sunshine Coast are good news for Canberra Airport. The airport had been closing on Saturdays due to a lack of flights, and had threatened to close entirely if state borders didn’t reopen soon.