Airport a runway success

DAILY flights to Japan are the cherry on the top of a massive year for the Gold Coast Airport, according to airport boss Paul Donovan.

It's been a big year for the Gold Coast Airport, which has won top industry awards -- some for the second year running -- as well as starting a $100 million redevelopment of its terminal on top of welcoming new airlines and more services to the Pacific and South-East Asia.

A year since the airport's runway extension was completed, which allowed long-haul flights from South-East Asia, airport boss Paul Donovan believes the sky is the limit for growth in these markets in 2009.

"All the new services are fantastic, however the daily services to Japan are perhaps the most significant as it opens up a new market for the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers," Mr Donovan said. "Asia remains a key market for the Gold Coast, particularly through providers Air Asia X and Jetstar that do direct flights into the Gold Coast."

Jetstar is aiming to reinvigorate the ailing Japanese tourism sector by starting daily flights from Coolangatta to Osaka, Japan in October, as well as a five-time weekly service to Tokyo, in November.

And the good news is that the Tokyo service is so popular it will fly out daily from March 2009, Mr Donovan said.

The Gold Coast's connection by air to South-East Asia has also created a gateway to Europe for foreign and local travellers, with low-cost carrier Air Asia X introducing cheap flights from the Malay capital of Kuala Lumpur to London. "Air Asia X extended its four-time weekly service to daily flights for the peak Christmas travel season," Mr Donovan said.

"Asia remains a key market for the Gold Coast, particularly through providers Air Asia X and Jetstar that do direct flights into the Gold Coast.

"The airport also won the best airport marketing award for the Asia Pacific region at the Official Airline Guide-Routes Airport Marketing Awards, edging out Singapore's Changi Airport.

"We were also awarded the 2008 Low Cost Carrier Airport of the Year by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation for the consecutive year."

The growth in flights from the Pacific Rim also saw a twice-weekly service from the Gold Coast to Nadi, Fiji, launched in November.

Jetstar also plan to expand their New Zealand services in April with daily, direct flights to Auckland, as well as three flights per week from Coolangatta to Cairns beginning in February.

While the global credit crunch has threatened to put a dampener on record growth in passenger numbers at the airport, the only loser has been Norfolk Air, who cancelled a new service from the Gold Coast to the Pacific island in October.

"The airport has certainly gone from strength to strength, and our challenge now is to ensure that the services we have are well patronised, to ensure their success," Mr Donovan said.



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