DIRECT flights from Rockhampton to Townsville are on the region's radar.
Sydney was also identified as a favoured primary route but Townsville emerged as the most viable option in comprehensive research completed by Airbiz.
The aviation consultancy firm was commissioned by the Rockhampton Regional Council to complete the airport report, which was presented to the business enterprise committee meeting yesterday.
Six months in the making, it presents data collated from research done with five resource industry proponents in the Galilee Basin, 263 businesses and 1058 passengers.
Airbiz senior consultant Cally Ward said the report found that Rockhampton Airport served its local community well and locals had pride in their airport.
It showed the export labour market was the best opportunity for economic development, with one in six passengers through the airport identifying as fly-in, fly-out or drive-in, drive-out.
Ms Ward said Townsville and Sydney were identified as the preferred new route opportunities.
One in six passengers identify as FIFO or DIDO
Passenger profile: Male 54%; female 46%
Reason for travel: Business 51%; visiting friends/relatives 24%; holiday/pleasure 15%
Customer satisfaction: Locals 7.59 (out of 10); visitors 7.45
Additional airport facilities required: Undercover parking 23%; service station 14%
"We debated the merits of both and decided that, strategically, Townsville was the strongest business case and had a more strategic alignment with the aspirations of Rockhampton Airport," Ms Ward said.
"There are so many synergies between the two cities and there is quite a lot of travel. There is a really valid market."
Ms Ward said Airbiz has prepared business cases to present to the airlines to establish the direct flights, with the key message "solid as a rock".
"Rockhampton is a solid, reliable passenger market with potential for sustainable growth. That is exactly what airlines want to hear at the moment," she said.
"It is not dependent on any one driver, which is also important, and there are real opportunities for growth.
"Rockhampton has to be positioning itself now and keeping the airlines informed about those opportunities."