Qantas Thursday announced a new route from Darwin to the West Australian resort town of Broome as it inked a $A4.5m marketing agreement to promote tourism in the Northern Territory.
The new route, operated by a QantasLink Fokker 100 aircraft, is part of a restructuring that will see the airline downsize its Boeing 737 service between Darwin and Alice Springs.
The airline said the downsizing of the Darwin-Alice Springs route to the 100-seat F100 came after the B737 which had operated it for the last two months proved too big for the route.
However, it noted the change made possible the three-times-weekly Broome flight.
The flights will start from October 27 and will maintain a double daily frequency on Darwin-Alice Springs “for the majority of the year” to better match demand on the route. Qantas is offering $A199 one-way promotional fares to kick off the route.
“This Broome route is the fourth new route the Qantas Group has launched in the Territory in the past year – Qantas launched two new routes to Uluru from Darwin and Adelaide in March and Jetstar launched Brisbane to Uluru in August last year,” Qantas Domestic chief executive Andrew David said.
The new marketing agreement represents an increase of almost 20 percent on the deal struck in 2016 and will focus on promoting the NT across Australia and in key markets such as the US.
It will include advertising in key markets, collaboration on media and industry initiatives and promotion of special fares and major events including Parrtjima, the Darwin Festival, Bruce Monroe: Tropical Light and the Field of Light exhibition.
The Territory will also be promoted across the Qantas digital platforms and to its 12 million frequent flyers.
“Qantas has a deep history with the Northern Territory, and we understand the key role we play in bringing tourists and business travelers to the region which in turn drives the local economy,” said Qantas Group chief marketing officer Stephanie Tully.
The airline has also extended its resident fares program, which offers discounts of between 20 and 30 percent off non-sale fares, to residents of Yulara and surrounding communities in the south of the territory wanting to travel to Darwin. They join residents of Alice Springs in the program.
Resident fares came in for criticism in a recent report into regional aviation because of the complexity of eligibility criteria.
In the case of the Yulara region, the airline said each resident could use the discount on up to 12 personal trips each year to save at least $A122 off a return fare.
Qantas and Jetstar operate up to 288 flights in and out of the Northern Territory each week, offering more than two million seats a year in both directions.
The group says it supports more than 400 local jobs and contributes more than $A150 million to the Territory’s economy.