By Heather Luck
North Queenslanders are escaping the bitter Cairns winter in droves to visit the tiny nation of Guam, the US territory in Micronesia.
The Guam/Cairns route was a money-spinner in the 1990 and 2000s, with Air Micronesia, a subsidiary of Continental Airlines, flying twice-daily services. Following the GFC and the attendant weakness in the North Queensland peso, demand has waned, which resulted in Air Micronesia withdrawing the service in 2013.
In more recent times, Peach Aviation has taken on the city pair, and load factors are high. It has been reported that every flight is fully booked on both the Cairns-Guam and Mareeba-Guam sectors for the next three months.
Cairns Base Manager for Peach, Shinischi Takashi, told the Plain Dealer that business was booming, and that the reason was clear.
“Everyone is excited about the possibility of a nuclear exchange between the US and North Korea,” Mr Takashi opined. “And Guam is the best place to watch it. It’s a real conversation-starter. The opportunity of witnessing a mushroom cloud from a five star resort in Tamuning while sipping a Mojito is not for everyone, but it is irresistible to some.”
Blayze Lobegeier (below), a 35 year old apprentice from Bentley Park, has been looking forward to his holiday with friends in Guam. “I’m fucking stoked to be finally going,” he said at Cairns airport today as he waited to board his flight. “I’ve packed a couple of welding masks and some frosty and the boys are going to party on bro! Keep up the crazy talk Trumppah! Let her rip Kimbo!”
Sandra Hazelton, 32, of Whitfield, is on the same flight bound for Guam with her husband and two children. She is looking forward to relaxing by the pool and is less excited about the possibility of nuclear annihilation.
“We go to Guam most years to escape the cold and we’ve found it to be a great place to take the kids,” she said. “Two Lovers Point is simply spectacular and we love the American food. They have a Hooters, you know.”
When asked whether she felt any concern about the brinkmanship between the US and North Korea, Mrs Hazelton admitted to feeling a little tense.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly concerned,” she said. “But I’ve got to imagine that Mr Trump will have thought through all the options. He seems to be on top of things. Anyway, we’re taking a medical kit and some extra calamine lotion just in case.”
Peach Aviation are in talks with regulatory authorities on approvals for a twice-weekly service from Tolga to Yap. A decision is expected within the next two weeks.