The Queensland state government has decided to award contracts to Regional Express (Rex) and QantasLink for provision of essential air services in the state.

Rex says it will be serving routes linking the Queensland city of Townsville to the smaller communities of: Winton, Longreach, Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek and Mount Isa,

The airline says it plans to launch the services on 1 February 2010 and that it will base a fourth Saab 340 in Townsville.

The frequency of the two services is not firmed up yet, says an airline spokeswoman.

QantasLink, meanwhile, says it has won a three-year contract to operate flights from Townsville to Cloncurry.

It will operate on the Townsville-Cloncurry-Mount Isa route five times a week using mostly Bombardier Q400s, says the carrier.

QantasLink already has a six-times-weekly non-stop service between Townsville and Mount Isa, according to Innovata.

Brisbane-based carrier MacAir previously had the contract with the Queensland Government but MacAir went into bankruptcy early this year. This led the government to award temporary contracts before awarding these longer-term contracts.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news