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Qld welcomes back nonstop China services, its most important flights

For the first time in nearly four years, Queensland will have a direct link to Mainland China. In what will undoubtedly be a massive boost for Queensland tourism and travel to China, China Southern Airlines will return to the state with a four-times-weekly service between Brisbane and Guangzhou commencing 17 November 2023 - just before the Chinese peak travel season. 

Expected to grow to a daily service within two years, the new flights will provide nearly 280,000 seats just into Brisbane and generate almost $450 million for the visitor economy over the next three years. 

China Southern will utilise its A350 aircraft on the route, with 28 business class and 306 economy seats for a total 334 seats. 

The first Chinese airline to fly to Brisbane in 2010, CZ carried the most Chinese visitors to Queensland pre-pandemic. 

And its return will go a long way in rebuilding the contribution mainland Chinese tourists delivered to the state before Covid-19, which totalled around $1.6 billion in overnight visitor expenditure a year.

Currently, Chinese tourists number around 12 per cent of 2019 levels.

BNE booming

Queensland CZ
CZ back in BNE

With the service, BNE’s global network will grow to 28 destinations. The hub also services more domestic destinations than any other Aussie airport. 

Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff says the announcement “will restore Queensland’s direct connection to our most lucrative market”. 

“Currently more than half of Queensland’s visitors from China are forced to fly via Sydney or Melbourne and the rest are coming via destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong,” said de Graaff, who was just in Guangzhou for personal talks with China Southern.

“We welcome China Southern Airlines back to the BNE family, and the thousands of tourists who will follow, and the good jobs they’ll support across Queensland. 

“The timing is perfect with the announcement on Thursday by the Chinese Government that it will allow travel agencies in China to book outbound group travel to Australia.” 

Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe called the return of CZ a “game changer, and an incredibly important step in rebuilding Queensland’s international visitor economy after the pandemic”. 

“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,” she remarked.

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the announcement was the “news our tourism industry has been eagerly awaiting”.  

“Twice this year I’ve travelled to China to meet with stakeholders and rally Team Queensland to ensure we not just re-establish this market but hopefully grow it,” she stated. 

“We know how important this market is and will be working hard to put Queensland right at the top of the ‘must do’ list.”  

Two-way boost

Australia-China Business Council CEO Elizabeth Sullivan said the new flights were “hugely important for facilitating two-way direct people-to-people links”.

“These flights will make it so much smoother and easier for those wanting to do business or to travel to now visit Queensland and/or China,” she remarked.  

Meanwhile, China Southern Airlines Regional General Manager Australia and New Zealand Jason Sun said, “Through this collaboration, China Southern Airlines aims to further expand the ‘Canton Route’ and, in turn, contribute to the influx of tourists from China as well as business and leisure travellers from other parts of the globe to Queensland”. 

Last week, BNE announced that in the financial year ending 30 June 2023, more than 20 million passengers passed through Brisbane Airport’s domestic and international terminals.  

It’s been seven months since the Chinese Government relaxed laws around Covid-19, effectively reopening mainland China to mainstream tourism. So how is travel to China faring?