International NZ flights in sight
Mackay Airport could see its first international flight to New Zealand take off as early as August.
And Dawson MP George Christensen and Assistant Minister for Immigration Senator James McGrath hope the test charter flight will pave the way for more international services.
"I think we need to take it one step at a time," Mr Christensen said.
"I can tell you right now my bum will be planted on the seat when they do the first flight out of here."
A small contingent of politicians and businesspeople gathered at Mackay Airport yesterday to detail plans for its first international flights.
Mr Christensen met with Senator McGrath, Mackay Airport general manager Rob Porter and Helloworld Mackay managing director Steven Boxall.
The group was hashing out plans for the first flight to New Zealand, championed primarily by Helloworld and the airport, which could lift off about August.
"I would say it's looking very likely we'll have flights out of Mackay and the Whitsundays this year," Mr Christensen said.
"We need to branch out into new markets. We know New Zealand is a lucrative tourism market...
"Developing a greater tourist market for both Mackay and the Whitsundays means we'll boost tourism business in the region and that will lead to more jobs."
Senator McGrath was confident implementing international border and customs officials, and going through necessary bureaucratic processes, would be rather straightforward, though drawn out.
He said it was unclear at this stage whether more staff would be needed at the airport.