Airlines will more than triple flights into Queensland from next month when state borders reopen, with thousands of southerners set to flock to the state.
Residents from Sydney will be allowed to enter Queensland from December 1 without needing to quarantine and Victorians will be allowed in the same day, provided the state records no community transmission on Wednesday.
Qantas and Jetstar will operate more than 1200 extra return flights into Queensland from NSW and Victoria, while Virgin Australia will add 65,000 seats to Queensland-NSW routes in the lead-up to Christmas.
From Tuesday, Qantas and Jetstar will operate more than 250 return flights a week across seven routes from Sydney to Queensland airports. This compares with just 36 return flights a week at present.
The airlines will also operate more than 160 flights from Melbourne, pending the decision from the Queensland government on Wednesday.
The extra flights were expected to return the flying schedule of Qantas Group, including both Qantas and Jetstar, to about 60 per cent of pre-COVID levels by Christmas.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said Queenslanders could expect to welcome a lot more visitors in the next few months.
"This is news that many families have been waiting so long to hear," he said.
“We can’t wait to see a repeat of the heart-warming scenes in Melbourne and Sydney this week with families reuniting after months apart, this time in Queensland."
Virgin Australia hopes to sell an extra 65,000 seats from NSW to Queensland by Christmas with up to seven return flights a day between Sydney and Brisbane, up from three.
The airline, which plunged into voluntary administration at the start of the pandemic, will also increase flights from Sydney to the Gold and Sunshine coasts, as well as resume services into Cairns and the Whitsundays.
Virgin Australia network general manager Russell Shaw said the airline would provide flexibility to change bookings up until January 31, 2021.
"We recognise our role as one of Queensland’s largest employers and our ability to contribute to both the Queensland and New South Wales tourism economies," he said.
"The additional services will be timed to provide choice and convenience for customers, while at the same time give travellers the opportunity to do business and reconnect with loved ones, families and friends ahead of the well-earned Christmas break."
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said he was expecting interstate tourism numbers so show "very, very strong trends".
"Hopefully we will see a massive influx of visitors from the south, the time is right," he said.
"The challenge for many operators of course now will be to prepare their facilities and their staff but we look forward to the challenge."
Mr Gschwind said the interstate tourism market was worth $10 billion to Queensland's economy last year.
"Over Christmas and New Year's, I think there will be a few places in the south-east corner that will probably be booked out," he said.
"There is plenty of capacity still on the Gold Coast and in north Queensland."
Mr Gschwind said places such as Cairns and Airlie Beach, which were heavily reliant on international visitors, would especially welcome the boost from interstate travellers.
"They are starting with an enormous handicap compared with other destinations," he said.
"But hopefully all of the Australians who normally go overseas at Christmas will be looking at Queensland and those beautiful tropical settings."