8 February, 2024
Welcome back China Eastern
CHINA Eastern flights for the Chinese New Year are running almost at full capacity.
The first of 10 direct services until February 18 arrived on Thursday last week.
An airport spokesman said inbound passenger loads were up to 80 per cent (about 186 people of 232 capacity).
It is hoped the special flights will encourage the airline to operate more seasonal services.
“The seasonal services are an excellent opportunity to showcase our region and we expect that they will help to accelerate the return of visitors from China,” the spokeswoman said.
Last week’s first direct flight was the first from China in almost four years.
Thousands of Chinese tourists are expected to welcome the Year of the Dragon in the Far North this year.
Cairns Airport chief executive officer Richard Barker said the service was a significant milestone for the region and local operators.
“China is a key inbound tourism market, and these are our first direct flights since the pandemic,” he said.
“It is clear that our region remains a destination of desire, and we expect these direct seasonal services will help to accelerate the return of visitors from China.”
The last Chinese seasonal flights from China were in 2019. The most recent scheduled service from China was Hainan Airlines, which operated to Shenzhen and exited in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Mark Olsen said the region’s international recovery was closely linked to aviation and these flights allowed Cairns to show it was ready to welcome visitors from China.
“China was our largest international market before the pandemic, accounting for one in five international visitor nights and injecting more than $200 million a year into our regional economy,” he said.