Darwin International Airport logo

Darwin International Airport

  • Type: 1-4 Million

NT government launches $20m Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme in bid to boost flights

The government has opened a new aviation attraction scheme that’s designed to give travellers more options and cheaper fares. Here’s how it will work.

The NT government is throwing $10m at a new aviation scheme it hopes will bring more flights and carriers to the Territory.

Darwin, Alice Springs and Ayers Rock (Uluru) airports can now apply for a share of the funding pool, which they must match dollar-for-dollar, bringing a total of $20m on offer to contending carriers.

The scheme is designed to subsidise airlines’ cost per passenger, which is expected to attract new airlines such as Bonza and Nexus, increase competition and ultimately lower the price of fares.

Tourism and Hospitality Minister Nicole Manison said the move would attract greater options for existing routes as well as put more direct destinations on the map.

Tourism and Hospitality Minister Nicole Manison said the scheme was designed to ease cost of living pressures for Territorians. Picture: Pema Tamang Pakhrin

“We know that airlines right now are looking straight at that east coast golden triangle, they call it that Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne route,” she said.

“We need to be out there in the market, giving them some more options to come to the Northern Territory, and to do that we do need to put some good deals on the table.”

Ms Manison said while it was hard to compete with more populated states, she said the fund was a “significant start”.

“We’re competing with the jurisdictions like Queensland at the moment where you’ve got local government airports and the government throwing $200 million on the table to get airlines there,” she said.

“This is about addressing an issue that we’re hearing about loud and clear right now that Territorians wants to see more airline services.”

Ms Manison also said conversations with budget carrier Bonza were under way, while the Territory was “reaching out far and wide to airlines that we think will be a good fit”.

Airport Development Group executive general manager customer and strategy, Selwyn D'Souza, welcomed the new Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme. Picture: Pema Tamang Pakhrin

Airport Development Group executive general manager customer and strategy Selwyn D’Souza said his team was looking at both domestic and international routes.

“We’re talking to Vietnam Airlines, we’re talking to Indonesian carriers, we’re talking to people going to Kuala Lumpur … Philippines would be a great destination for us,” he said.

“We’re having pretty across the board conversations with people that are interested.”

Mr D’Souza said the scheme would help tackle challenges airlines face when investing in Darwin and its “tyranny of distance”.

“(We have) the most isolated cities as we know in the Territory – we don’t have a huge population here,” he said.

“Airlines like any other business, they need to make their money … so we do need to come up with support for that and this fund absolutely addresses that.”

Mr D’Souza said he expected the funds to be spent “judicially” over the scheme’s two-year course, while further investments by future governments would be needed to keep the Territory competitive.