China Eastern will fly the Airbus A330 into Brisbane when it starts daily flights in December. Photo: Creative CommonsOne of Brisbane Airport’s holy grails – direct daily flights between Brisbane and Shanghai – will finally arrive later this year, after China Eastern committed to increased services to the Queensland capital.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said Queensland had become the first state in Australia to secure daily flights with China Eastern, China’s second-largest airline.
The daily direct flights between Shanghai to Brisbane will start on December 16 and be serviced by wide-bodied Airbus A330 aircraft.
The flights will provide 3248 weekly seats to and from Brisbane and include lie-flat business class seating.
“Originally, we had signed an MOU where we were going to look at having three flights a week, but China Eastern has such confidence in the Queensland economy that they’ll be moving straight to direct flights in December every day,” Ms Jones said.
“This is really exciting and we know that this will generate around $53 million for the Queensland economy and add thousands of extra passengers to Queensland.”
Flights from Shanghai will arrive in Brisbane at 9.45am daily and depart two hours later, at 11.45am, with a flight time of about 10 hours.
Brisbane Airport Corporation chief executive Julieanne Alroe said Thursday’s announcement was a boost to the previously announced three times weekly service, which was due to start in November.
Thursday’s announcement delayed China Eastern’s entry to the Brisbane market by a month.
“We think connecting Brisbane to the major financial capital in China is going to be not only great for our tourism business, but will also give lots of opportunities for both business and education to have that direct link into Brisbane,” Ms Alroe said.
“And we do know daily services make a big difference to people’s confidence in booking their travel arrangements.”
The announcement was almost two years in the making.
BAC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shanghai Airport Authority in 2014, with the hope of securing China Eastern flights between Brisbane Airport and Pudong International Airport.
And an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission decision last year to green-light a deeper alliance between Qantas and China Eastern boosted the BAC’s hopes of attracting the Chinese carrier.
Ms Alroe said the Chinese visitor market was Brisbane Airport’s second largest, which had seen growth of 23 per cent in the past 12 months.
“Importantly, as China’s second-largest airline, China Eastern offers a premium full-service product trusted by high-yielding Chinese business and leisure travellers who now spend $1.2 trillion globally on tourism,” she said.
“Regular direct flights into Brisbane will help capture a portion of this substantial and important market and direct visitors to some of Queensland’s most desirable tourist destinations via the most comprehensive regional network of any airport in Australia.”
A record 400,000 Chinese travellers visited Queensland in 2015, according to the state government, and contributed almost $1 billion in visitor expenditure, which was a 51 per cent increase on 2014.
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