While the rest of Queensland enjoys an economy that has until recently done well, things have not been so rosy up north. With what some would say is an over reliance on tourism, the businesses of Cairns and its environs have suffered in recent years. News this week that a new international carrier would soon be flying to Cairns from Singapore no doubt brought a smile to many in Cairns, who are hoping things will improve.

Silkair, the full service sister to Singapore airlines, will commence flights in May to Cairns three times a week. Just like what the other full service carriers servicing Cairns internationally have done for a long time, the flights will not be direct in both directions. Depending on the day, a stop in Darwin will take place either inbound or outbound. One of our members who resides in Cairns was happy that Singapore was again an option, and brings up an important point about the Darwin stopover and past history.

Many who live in Cairns have been saying for years we need another direct Asian destination/airline and Singapore was top of the bill, for far too long there was one choice direct on CX and the fares are usually very expensive, how about $6K in Business or $1.5K in Economy to HKG return.

Of course connections are many out of Singapore so a big plus and Virgin Australia will be more than happy to carry domestic pax to other OZ destinations. Possibly some will do a round trip, into Cairns then to our cities, or vice versa. I do not know anyone that spoke kindly of the JQ Darwin stopover.

At the other end of the route, our member in Singapore was a little surprised with the news. Given the distance and flight times, they thought Silk Air was an interesting choice for what is essentially a tourist route.

I am surprised this isn’t a Scoot service. It’s a long way in a 737 in economy, and Business class is only comparable to Jetstar J class.

As a side note I think this means the Singapore group serve as many international ports as the Qantas group on Australia.

In the past, Cairns was serviced by Singapore flights offered by Qantas and Jetstar. Qantas struggled on the route for a number of years operating wide body aircraft in either full service or low cost flavours (through the Australian Airlines model). Eventually traffic was handed to Jetstar Asia, who operated flights via Darwin in both directions until recently. In planning this new service, Silk Air seem to have taken a bit from each of these offerings to put together what they hope will be a viable offering. Lower capacity aircraft, a stop in Darwin to collect/offload traffic and full service including Business class.

Time will tell if it works. Do you think it makes sense, perhaps you live in Cairns and are looking forward to Singapore travel without having to go via Brisbane, have your say HERE.

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