ONE of Australia’s premier eco tourism destinations is becoming easier to visit thanks an airport expansion that has attracted direct flights from Qantas.
Kangaroo Island is just 200 kilometres from the South Australia capital of Adelaide but was only accessible by ferry or limited air services.
An AUD $18 million upgrade of the Kangaroo Island runway and terminal has allowed Qantas to offer direct flights from Adelaide and Melbourne during the island’s busy summer months.
The main runway is being extended and a new terminal building will be built with the ability to handle security screening. Works are expected to be finished in November.
The flights will commence from December 2017, as part of an agreement between Qantas, the South Australian Government, Kangaroo Island Council and Adelaide Airport Limited.
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third biggest offshore island and has long been regarded as one of the world’s most pristine natural environments.
“Kangaroo Island is already one of our State’s most popular destinations and now thousands more people will get to experience one of our great natural wonders,” said South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.
“The Island is world-renowned for its premium food and wine and is the ultimate taste of Australia for visitors with its abundant wildlife.”
Qantas will offer three flights per week from Adelaide, increasing to five times per week during the peak summer period through to Easter.
There will also be three flights per week from Melbourne during the summer holiday season.
The 35-minute service will use a Dash-8 Q300 50-seater aircraft and will depart Adelaide at 10.40am while return flights will depart Kingscote at 11.45am on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Flights are now on sale with special launch airfares starting at $99 one-way.
Adelaide Airport Managing Director Mark Young said the new QantasLink service, which will operate in addition to the existing REX Airlines service, will significantly improve access to Kangaroo Island for tourists and island residents.
“Kangaroo Island is a must-see destination for visitors to South Australia. It’s truly one of the most spectacular places to visit in Australia due to its rugged landscape and abundance of wildlife,” Young said.
The airport upgrade and increased flights come as more tourists are expected to experience the $5.8 million Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, which opened last year and was ranked third on Lonely Planet’s list of top new travel destinations for 2017.
Directional arrows have recently been installed on a number of Kangaroo Island roads to remind the 40,0000 international tourists who visit the island each year to keep to the left on the road while driving.