Qantas and Jetstar are flying additional planes into Cairns to get people out safely before "monster" Cyclone Yasi hits on Thursday.
Premier Anna Bligh has warned that Yasi will be bigger than Cyclone Larry, which caused $1.5billion damage. "This storm is huge and it is life threatening," said Bligh.
Qantas is running two additional flights tonight: Cairns to Brisbane at 20:45 (QF1343) and 21:10 (QF1341). It is also upgrading the scheduled 19:35 (QF977) flight to a larger Boeing 767 plane, with extra seats.
"Qantas is closely monitoring weather conditions and potential operational impacts on airports in Queensland and will make further decisions about services to Cairns and Townsville as the situation develops," the airline said in a statement.
Jetstar is also running additional flights from Cairns today, to Sydney and to Melbourne via Brisbane.
Premier Bligh also announced that 11 planes have been chartered to evacuate the sickest patients from Cairns Base Hospital to Brisbane, using aircraft from the Government Airwing, Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Royal Australian Air Force.
Most airlines are waiving fees to allow travellers to change travel arrangements in and out of Cairns.