A spike in demand from inbound Chinese tourists visiting Queensland has led China Southern to lift its capacity during the peak summer period, with plans to offer a daily service into Brisbane from December.
Just four weeks after announcing its first flights to Queensland from mainland China since the pandemic, Asia's largest airline by fleet size is ramping up its four-flights-a-week service starting on 17 November to a daily service between 8 December and 25 February to cater for China’s peak travel season.
"This increase by China Southern has occurred at breathtaking pace,” says Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of Brisbane Airport.
“It’s still nine weeks from landing its first flight in Brisbane since the pandemic, but to see demand so strong this early is good news for Queensland’s economy. Chinese visitors love Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef, so the jobs from these tourists will be spread across the state."
The increased flight capacity has lifted hopes that Queensland can rebuild the inbound Chinese visitor market which was Queensland’s biggest source of international visitors before the pandemic, accounting for 497,000 Chinese travellers a year contributing just over $1.61 billion in overnight visitor expenditure.
"The 2032 Games are playing a key role in this market right now,” de Graaff says. “Chinese visitors view hosting an Olympics and Paralympic Games as an important marker of status for a city. It’s very symbolic and something we can’t talk up too highly in this region because it cuts through."
The increased capacity into China comes as Brisbane Airport embarks on a $5 billion-plus investment program to meet demand over the next two decades.
The works will include upgrades to the airports existing terminal buildings, including the possibility of a third terminal building, plus more freight facilities, extra car parking, the development of a regional aeromedical hub, and an expansion of the Skygate and DFO retail centres.
Brisbane Airport says the investment is aimed at servicing 50 million passengers a year by 2040. The airport serviced 20 million passengers in FY23 as the numbers edge closer to the 23.9 million in 2019 ahead of the pandemic.
The China Southern deal has been facilitated by the Queensland Government’s $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund and comes on the heels of the fund earlier this year helping to establish a new United Airlines service between Brisbane and San Franciso and new services by Korean Air into South Korea.
"China Southern’s commitment to daily seasonal flights shows the strong demand for Queensland holidays ahead of November’s reconnection of mainland China with Brisbane,” says Queensland’s Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.
"Bringing daily flights online for the traditional Chinese New Year travel season delivers many more opportunities for Chinese visitors to discover Queensland’s great lifestyle.
"Daily seasonal flights are a critical step in re-establishing year-round, seven-day-a-week services from China and building Tourism and Events Queensland’s blueprint for an $11 billion visitor economy by 2032."
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