IN A sign that relations between Australia and China are starting to warm up a bit, China’s largest airline has announced it will return services to the Sunshine State for the first time since the pandemic forced the closure of borders in 2020.
China Southern Airlines will restore flights between Guangzhou and Brisbane from 17 November, operating four times a week initially before moving to daily within two years.
Brisbane Airport estimates over the next three years, the rebooted services will create an extra 278,000 inbound seats alone, generating nearly $441 million for the visitor economy.
The latest news follows several pushes in recent months by China Southern Airlines to restore capacity in the region, including to Melbourne, Sydney, and Christchurch.
“Securing China Southern from Guangzhou is a gamechanger, and an incredibly important step in rebuilding Queensland’s international visitor economy after the pandemic,” Qld’s Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.
“China is crucial to Tourism and Events Queensland’s Blueprint for growing an $11 billion international visitor economy on our runway to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Australia has been active in attempting to woo more air
connectivity from China, with both Qld government officials and Tourism Australia MD Phillipa Harrison flying to Australia’s previously largest tourism source market earlier in the year to hold discussions with key airline executives.
Despite the ongoing efforts, Chinese tourists have not flooded back to Australia in the way many stakeholders in the travel and tourism industries had hoped, with numbers from the ABS showing that rather than a flood, the increases month-on-month have been more akin to a strong trickle.
Despite the sluggishness of the once largest source market for Australian tourism, the pace continues to increase, and more air connectivity, such as through the deal struck between China Southern Airlines and Brisbane Airport this week, can only serve to accelerate the vital recovery.