China Eastern Airlines is looking to tap into the Queensland market with advanced negotiations to fly from their Shanghai base to Cairns twice weekly beginning later this year.
It is understood the Chinese carrier is in discussions with Cairns airport which at this stage would see the airline operate seasonally during the peak season for Chinese to visit Australia during November to March, The Australian reported.
The recent launch of Tourism Australias global advertising campaign Theres Nothing Like Australia, puts Tourism Australia in hot pursuit for a broader alliance with China Eastern Airlines.
China Eastern chairman Liu Shaoyang met Tourism Australia chairman Geoff Dixon and chief executive Andrew McEvoy earlier this month in Shanghai, along with Cairns Airport representatives.
Chinese visitors to the North Queensland city increased by 39 percent over the past calendar year, yet no-one currently operates direct flights between China and Cairns.
Chinese New Year celebrations earlier this year saw 12 charter flights bring in more than 20,000 Chinese visitors to Cairns. These included a number from Shanghai operated by China Eastern Airlines.
China Southern is hot on the tail however, identifying Australia as a key growth market. The airlines chairman has mentioned they were looking at the possibility of new destinations in Australia.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Chinese and Australian governments last year to deliver thousands more seats between the two countries has boosted the Chinese airlines into the Australian market.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W