Melbourne Airport has welcomed the relaunch of services from China's Hainan Airlines, signifying the return of seven of the eight mainland Chinese carriers that operated out of the Victorian capital before the pandemic.
In 2019 Chinese visitors spent $3.4 billion on trips to Victoria, representing 38.3 per cent of all international overnight visitor spend in the state and more than the next 10 markets combined.
The airline will operate a twice-weekly service between Melbourne and Haikou with an Airbus A330, adding more than 1,200 seats and valuable cargo space for exporters of Victorian fresh produce.
Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation Jim Parashos said Hainan’s decision to return to Melbourne was a significant step in the recovery of the market.
"Before the onset of COVID-19 the Chinese market was Victoria’s biggest inbound market and the resumption of Hainan Airlines services will help rebuild our tourism and education sector," Parashos said.
"One of the current barriers to a full recovery is the lack of group travel from China but we are hopeful of a resumption in the coming months, so the additional capacity that Hainan brings will be essential for the inevitable future growth in the demand.
"Less than six months after China’s border reopened, Chinese passport holders now represent the third largest group of foreign travellers at Melbourne Airport, behind only New Zealand and India."
Parashos also noted that last month the number of Indian passengers was up 125 per cent on the same time in 2019.
Hainan Airlines joins Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines in offering direct flights from Melbourne to mainland China.
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