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China Southern Airlines – Guangzhou to Brisbane – four to seven flights per week

14 Aug 2023

China’s busiest airline is set to resume direct flights to Queensland for the first time since the pandemic travel shutdown.

China Southern Airlines, which has the largest fleet size, highest number of flights and passenger volumes, has inked a deal with Brisbane Airport to recommence flights into Queensland’s capital from November.

The agreement has been supported through the Queensland Government’s $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund (AAIF).

The announcement was boosted by news that China’s Approved Destination Status scheme had resumed. This scheme allows travel agencies in China to book outbound group travel to Australia for the first time since it was suspended due to the COVID outbreak.

Initially four China Southern flights a week will start from 17 November with this growing to seven per week over the ensuing two years.

These services are expected to deliver 277,896 inbound seats over three years of operation and support up to 1,790 Queensland jobs. This is expected to inject more than $440 million into Queensland’s visitor economy.

Importantly, the service resumption will provide increased opportunities for Queensland’s exporters with each flight having freight capacity of 20 tonnes. Queensland’s top exports to China currently include chilled beef, seafood, provitamins and vitamins, beauty and make-up products and fresh produce.

Chinese students and their families are also expected to welcome the return of direct flights. China remains Queensland’s largest source for international student enrolments. From January to November last year there were 21,680 enrolments from China, with around 80 per cent of these being in higher education.”

China Southern is the 25th international service supported through the combined AAIF investment between the Queensland Government, airports and tourism organisations since the AAIF was announced on 14 February 2022. The investment is forecast to deliver more than 1.91 million inbound international seats, up to $1.49 billion in overnight visitor expenditure annually and support up to 18,566 Queensland jobs.

Historically, the service between Guangzhou and Brisbane delivered a significant portion of inbound passengers from mainland China and is expected to play a critical role in the recovery of aviation access from China into Queensland with the easing of international border restrictions.

The service resumption reconfirms the strong connections between Guangzhou and Brisbane. The first direct flights between the cities commenced in November 2010 with daily services from December 2013.

Jason Sun, China Southern Airlines Regional General Manager Australia & NZ, said the resumption is a testament to the valuable support provided by the Queensland Government and Brisbane Airport to the airline and showcases our shared vision for the future.

“Since 2009, China Southern Airlines has been actively pursuing its internationalisation strategy, known as the Canton Rout,” he said.

“During the challenging times presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, although we withdrew flights, we never gave up on this market and waited patiently for the right time to come back.

“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.”

Brisbane Airport Chief Executive Officer Gert-Jan de Graaff has just returned from Guangzhou following negotiations with China Southern Airlines.

“No single country has a bigger impact on Queensland’s tourism industry as China. 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,” he said.

“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.”

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Patricia O’Callaghan described the news as just what Queensland’s tourism industry had 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 said.

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

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Brett Fraser said it was great to be welcoming back direct flights between Guangzhou and Queensland’s capital city.

“The return of these giants of aviation to our skies is a good sign of tourism confidence and revitalisation,” he said.

“Better connectivity and greater availability of direct flights makes Queensland a more appealing destination and gives us a competitive edge in a highly competitive global market.”

Australia-China Business Council CEO Elizabeth Sullivan said the return of these flights is hugely important for facilitating two-way direct people-to-people links, particularly for those in the trade and investment space, and across the broader community, including in tourism and education.

“Behind all the trade and investment numbers are hundreds of Queensland companies and thousands of jobs across the State,” she said.

“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.”

China Southern will operate the new generation Airbus A350 aircraft to Brisbane. The aircraft is designed to be 50 per cent quieter, delivering 25 per cent less fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat, compared to previous generation aircraft.

Read more abou the $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund (AAIF).