PASSENGER numbers between Cairns and PNG have more than doubled since 2005, with up to 14 flights operating daily between the destinations.
Figures The Cairns Post obtained show more than 20,000 seats were sold between Cairns and PNG during March; up from 10,000 in July 2004.
But larger aircraft since mid 2010 saw the biggest spike from 15,000 to 20,000 between May and June.
The figures, recorded between July 2004 and March 2013, average around 10 scheduled flights per day with Airlines PNG, QantasLink and Air Niugini the main operators.
North Queensland Airports aeronautical development and marketing general manager Janice Antonson said the boost in flight numbers locally was mainly due to PNG's booming mining sector and an expanding tourist market.
"We're seeing a lot of international travellers coming through Cairns and heading to PNG, where the mining industry is absolutely huge," Ms Antonson said.
"We're only an hour and 40 minutes by air to Port Moresby. It's a great recreational spot for the miners to come back to for a weekend of rest or come and do their shopping," she said.
Ms Antonson said 14 flights a day was common, depending on demand.
Monthly seat bookings reached an all-time high of about 23,000 in September last year.
"We have three carriers on the route, so it's a very lucrative business," she said.
"There's so many opportunities that haven't been tapped there, so we're putting some marketing dollars towards PNG in next year's budget."
Ms Antonson said a recent change of government in PNG meant closer ties between Cairns and Port Moresby.
"We are so close and we do offer good service, so it's a win-win situation for us," she said. Source: Cairns Post