Cheap flights to Uluru as Jetstar replaces Qantas

The revival of Ayers Rock tourism will get another boost this week when Jetstar replaces Qantas on the Sydney to Uluru route with cheap introductory fares of $129 one way.

The Jetstar flights, starting on Tuesday, will provide 1400 low-cost seats to the Red Centre each week and will allow Qantas to exit the route where it had been making a loss.

But the $129 fares are on sale only until Wednesday night when regular fares, starting from $179, kick in.

Jetstar's Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said the budget carrier would provide an opportunity for more Australian families and international visitors to go to Uluru where resort facilities and activities had been rejuvenated in the past two years.

"Our low-fares proposition stimulates demand," he said. "I think we will see a lot of first-time tourists into Uluru.

"The low fares enable families to get away on a wonderful adventure for an extended weekend."

Mr Hall said a Melbourne to Uluru service was not planned "but we never say never".

Koos Klein, the managing director at Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, which operates Uluru's resort facilities, said Jetstar's prices would "support our efforts to bring Uluru and indigenous culture within reach of Australian families".

Voyages has spent $43 million in 18 months on resort refurbishment, including the Sails in the Desert Hotel whose visitor levels were up 17 per cent on the previous year, it said.

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It has also introduced free indigenous experiences, including cultural dance workshops, spear and boomerang throwing lessons, and art markets.

Indigenous employment with Voyages has gone up from two to 160 people and last weekend an indigenous training academy at Uluru had its second graduation ceremony with 33 hospitality graduates.

Jetstar's flights will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Virgin Australia has daily flights between Sydney and Uluru. Its fares are about $219 one way.

In another boost to air capacity into the Northern Territory, in April low-cost carrier Tiger started flying four times a week from Melbourne and Sydney to Alice Springs.

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