China Eastern Airlines has announced that it will be returning to Queensland on 29 October – reconnecting Brisbane with China’s largest city, Shanghai – due to the State Government’s $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund (AAIF).

China Eastern direct from China’s largest city is the 26th international connection secured by the Queensland Government’s $200 million AAIF. 

Initially, China Eastern will fly non-stop to Brisbane Airport three times a week, growing to five services per week within three years.

The airline has also committed to daily seasonal flights from 8 December until early 2024.

China Eastern Airlines will land almost 41,000 seats in Brisbane onboard an A330-200 aircraft during the first year of operation.

The flights are tipped to generate around $314 million for Queensland’s visitor economy over three years, and support 1,270 Queensland jobs.

The AAIF is a nation leading partnership between the State Government and Queensland’s four international airports. 

Combined, the 26 connections are predicted to deliver 1.97 million inbound international seats, up to $1.6 billion in overnight visitor spending each year and up to 19,836 good Queensland jobs.

Before the pandemic, China was Queensland’s biggest source of international visitors with 500,000 travellers generating $1.6 billion a year.

More than 21,500 international students were enrolled to study in Queensland during 2022.

Queensland Minister for Tourism, Stirling Hinchliffe, said that this is more terrific news for the international recovery of Queensland’s world-class tourism industry.   

“We know Chinese travellers are eager to return and rediscover Queensland’s great lifestyle and iconic visitor experiences from the Torres Strait and the Reef to our amazing beaches and the Outback,” Mr Hinchliffe said. 

“The message potential visitors are hearing in China from Tourism and Events Queensland’s (TEQ) tourism marketing is Queensland is Good to Go.

“We’re seeing that reflected in strong Queensland holiday bookings from Guangzhou and now new tourism opportunities for visitors to fly direct from China’s biggest city, Shanghai.

“Rekindling Chinese travellers’ love of Queensland’s iconic tourism experiences is critical to TEQ’s industry Blueprint for building an $11 billion international visitor economy by the 2032 Games.”

China Eastern Airlines Oceania General Manager, Jim Young, said that China Eastern Airlines, a member of Skyteam, is thrilled to return to Brisbane from 29 October 2023.

“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.” 

Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff, said that this is another sign Queensland’s Chinese tourism market is set to roar back to life.

“We are delighted to welcome Shanghai back to the Brisbane Airport destination map.

“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 that expanding international flight routes is critical in attracting guests to Queensland and putting the 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.”

Image credit: Queensland State Government.

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