Chinese revellers jet in
CHINA Southern Airlines' first scheduled service from Guangzhou to Cairns on Wednesday will herald the start of more than 50 flights bringing 20,000 revellers to Chinese New Year celebrations.
The trial flight is due to touch down at 12.05pm to a low-key welcome. It is one of three-a-week scheduled flights the airline is trialling until March, 21 in total, as well as seven charter services. Other lunar New Year flights are three a week by China Eastern from Shanghai and a daily Cathay Pacific service from Hong Kong.
Others coming for the festivities will arrive on domestic flights.
Cairns Airport chief executive officer Kevin Brown said it was hoped the success of China Southern's A330 Chinese New Year services, with capacities of between 260 and 300 passengers, would lead to more scheduled services from the airline.
"In October 2012 China Eastern introduced their regular direct flights from Shanghai to Cairns and they have proven popular," he said.
"China Eastern initially planned a trial period until the end of March 2013 and has already extended this through to September.
"The performance of this almost full year of services will determine the airline's future commitment.
"To date the service has been well utilised with the inbound flights consistently full and good load factors on the outbound flights also.
"Maintaining outbound passenger numbers is crucial to the ongoing success of the service."
Mr Brown said the Chinese New Year was an excellent opportunity to showcase the region to the Chinese to stimulate future growth.
"We continue to work closely with the airlines, the Queensland Government and Tourism Tropical North Queensland to grow capacity from China and establish new direct routes," he said.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Rob Giason said China Southern had been a strong supporter of the region for a few years with charters each Chinese New Year.
"China Southern's endorsement of Queensland and Cairns is well documented over the past years and this has added to the increasing awareness of tropical north Queensland within the Chinese market," he said.
"We are currently getting more than 110,000 visitors from greater China and this region has the potential of attracting 200,000 Chinese visitors bringing in $78.5 million to our economy by 2015."
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Time to celebrate: Chinese New Year is set to go off with more than 50 flights bringing 20,000 revellers to the party in the Far North.