Tourism authorities in the Northern Territory are planning to challenge Qantas that will cease services from Perth to Uluru in October and halve the number of flights from Cairns to Uluru from September while Jetstar is to cut services between Darwin and Sydney, and Darwin and Denpasar in Bali.
An angry NT tourism minister Malarndirri McCarthy said, “I’m seeking urgent talks with Qantas… The Territory government works extremely hard to improve air services and give territorians increased travel options, and any reduction to existing services is extremely disappointing.
Contrary to what Jetstar group chief commercial officer David Koczkar maintains that poor patronage is the reason for the cutbacks, Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said the extra flights to the Northern Territory added by his airline last month were performing extremely well, and were “way ahead of our expectations”.
Qantas will reduce the number of Uluru-Cairns services from 14 a week to seven from September, while Uluru-Perth will drop from four per week to two in September before the route is suspended from October 28. Jetstar said it would cut the number of return flights between Darwin and Sydney from 11 to seven a week, from August 16.
The low-cost carrier was also reducing its Darwin to Denpasar service to eight a week, from 11 currently.
While this was happening, 14 tourism-related businesses in Australia’s Northern Territory have received a financial boost as a result of the 2012 Tourism Enhancement Fund. The state government announced contributions of more than $311,000 to help develop and distinguish territory businesses.
“The fund provides matched funding of up to $30,000 plus GST for initiatives that contribute to the sustainable growth of the Territory’s tourism industry through market diversification, product differentiation and business innovation,” Ms McCarthy said.