Flights to Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Northern Marianas from Brisbane will resume thanks to the resumption of services by Nauru Airlines.
These services were halted two and a half years ago due to the COVID pandemic and border closures but under an Australian-Government subsidy program the flights are returning.
This means that more flights will link Brisbane to Nauru, Tarawa, Majuro and Pohnpei. A second flight will link Brisbane to Nauru and then to Nadi.
While none of the Micronesian islands are major inbound tourist destinations, it will increase both pleasure and business travel among people from the Pacific countries.
It will also offer Australians the chance to visit parts of Micronesia that offers different tourism experiences.
Nauru Airlines won the tender as a part of the Australian Pacific Flights Program last week, and this positions the airline to receive funding from Australia to support it during the initial phases of resuming the service.
Australia’s Pacific Flights Program was initially established to help airlines and provide humanitarian aid during the pandemic. Australia supported 450 flights to 10 countries in the region since the pandemic hit in 2020, upending air service.
Now, with countries reopening and air travel resuming, the Pacific Flights Program is focused on supporting air routes by subsidising the service, so it becomes commercially viable.
Nauru Airlines chief executive officer Robert Eoe announced the airline’s intention to resume the Brisbane through to Majuro service on October 16. Initially, it is anticipated it will operate every two weeks.
Pohnpei will be added to the service when Nauru Airlines is ready. Once the service to Majuro and Tarawa resumes, it will also offers travellers an option to get to Fiji from Nauru.
The focus of the Pacific Flights Program is on the North Pacific due to the lack of airlines that service the region, and this will link these islands with Australia.
The financial risk of resuming the flights will be borne by the Australian government.
The flights provide the islands with much more than tourism, as the easier movement of cargo from Australia to the region is also important.
Marshall Islands Chamber of Commerce said the initiative was needed as it would drive the economy and help hundreds of people.
Authority chief executive officer Petero Manufolau said regional carriers such as Nauru Airlines played important roles in connecting remote yet unique Pacific Island destinations like Kiribati with the rest of the world.
Mr Manufolau added that the service will be ideal for business travellers from Australia and opens up additional travel options for ‘off the beaten track’ leisure travellers seeking to journey the road less travelled.
Tourism will be boosted with a direct link to Australia – for both inbound visitors and for residents of Majuro or Kwajalein who want to visit Australia.
There is already traction picking up on social media about the flights. Many of these locations are popular for diving and fishing, and offer a range of accommodation.