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Queensland’s tourism industry recovery on track as second Chinese airline returns

15 Sep 2023

China set to regain its spot as Queensland’s number one source for inbound tourists in 2024.

China Eastern Airlines has announced its return to Queensland with direct flights to Brisbane International Airport from Shanghai to resume in October.

The airline is expected to deliver almost 41,000 inbound seats in the first year of operation using their A330-200 aircraft increasing to a total of 181,014 inbound seats over the next three years.

From October 29, China Eastern Airlines will fly non-stop to Brisbane Airport three times a week, growing to five services per week within three years with seasonal increases occurring from 8 December until early in the New Year.

The announcement is the 26th international service secured as part of the $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund (AAIF) since the launch of the partnership initiative last year.

Estimated to generate almost $4 billion in overnight visitor expenditure every year, the AAIF is headlining Queensland’s international tourism recovery.

Signalling strong demand from Queensland’s Chinese tourism market, the announcement comes just days after confirmation China Southern Airlines would also increase its seasonal flights.

China Eastern Airlines Oceania General Manager Jim Young said China Eastern Airlines “was thrilled to return to Brisbane.”

“We, the Queensland Government, and Brisbane Airport align with a shared value and vision in our commitment to reintroducing this route in 2023,” Mr Young said.

“Our non-stop flight to and from Brisbane will further substantiate Shanghai as an exceptional hub for both business and leisure travellers to destinations across China and beyond on a global scale.”

With connectivity re-opened between Shanghai and Brisbane once more, Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said the announcement was a clear signal Queensland’s Chinese tourism market was “set to roar back to life.”

“We are delighted to welcome Shanghai back to the BNE destination map,” he said.

“Shanghai is China’s largest city and a commercial hub, making it a key city for business and leisure travel.”

“With two carriers now set to resume services from mainland China, we’re forecasting China will likely regain its spot as Queensland’s number one source for inbound tourists in 2024.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Brett Fraser said expanding international flight routes was “critical in attracting guests to Queensland putting our state on the radar of would-be-travellers.”

“Re-establishing and strengthening the connection between China and Queensland is vital to our long-term tourism success,” Mr Fraser said.

“It’s fantastic to welcome back more international guests to Queensland.”

Since the launch of the AAIF last year, twenty-six international services have been secured with an estimated delivery of more than 1.97 million inbound international seats generating up to $1.6 billion in overnight visitor spending each year.

Direct services also include flights from San Francisco to Brisbane on United Airlines, Haneda to Cairns with Virgin Australia and Kuala Lumpur and the Gold Coast with Air Asia X.