$2.5M pledge to Cairns Airport

CAIRNS would get $2.5 million to help lure direct international flights if Labor is re-elected this month, as Premier Anna Bligh trumps her LNP rivals with a new plan for tourism.

Both major parties have pledged millions of dollars to lure overseas airlines, and Cairns airport stands to snare the spoils of the plans.

Ms Bligh will announce Labor's $15 million Aviation Launch Pad in Cairns today, with a target of bringing 21,000 more flights into Queensland by 2020.

It ups the ante on Campbell Newman's recently announced Aviation Attraction Fund, which promised $8 million for airports statewide to share.

While it was expected Cairns would snare a significant slice of Mr Newman's fund, his policy contained no guarantees about the amount of money each airport would receive because they would be competing against each other for a share of the money.

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The Premier said the money would be used to sweeten negotiations with overseas airlines that are interested in flying directly to Cairns.

Far Northern aviation and tourism authorities have been working for two years to cement vital deals with airlines to provide direct flights from Singapore and China.

"We will provide the incentives needed to lure airlines like ChinaEastern to Cairns," Ms Bligh said.

"I understand that they are interested in talking about direct flights from Shanghai.

"The Bligh Government's Airline Route Attraction Scheme could be used to help make this route a reality, not just during Chinese New Year, but permanently."

The state's other languishing tourism centre, the Gold Coast, would also benefit from $2.5 million of dedicated cash under the plan.

The remaining $10 million would be used for a marketing campaign to promote flights into Queensland, and a pool of cash that other airports would compete for.

Ms Bligh said the target of 21,000 extra plane movements would see the state reaching its "tourism potential".

"It's simple. We need larger, more frequent planes arriving in Queensland from more places in Australia and around the world," she said.

Strory by Cairns.com.au