Trial may pave way to grow China link
CHINA Southern Airlines are aiming to run regular direct services between their hub in Guangzhou to Cairns only during their peak holiday season from November to March.
But the airline's Brisbane-based commercial manager Frank Gyzemyter said it would depend upon the success of the trial flights during the current trial period over the next four weeks, with three services a week plus seven charters.
The airline's first scheduled service touched down in Cairns yesterday before noon with 67 passengers, after stopping in Brisbane.
Mr Gyzemyter admitted the 67 passengers on an aircraft capable of up to 229 was "not a great amount".
"But it will pick up. Two are fully well booked and several others are over the 100 mark," he said.
Mr Gyzemyter said the airline was "considering" scheduled services during the Chinese peak holiday period of November-March.
"I'm fairly confident it will be given another go. Cairns is very much a destination the Chinese want to come to," he said.
He said uncertainty over the startdate of the flights, the short lead time and the shortage of aircraft were "issues" the airline had to deal with.
"Cairns is very much on our radar as far as the company is concerned," Mr Gyzemyter said.
"We anticipate flying 55 flights a week to Australia and New Zealand by 2015."
He said the number of Chinese on China Southern flights had increased by 57 per cent, from 246,000 in 2011 to 385,706 last year.
Cairns Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said it was hoped the success of China Southern's Chinese New Year services would lead to more scheduled services.
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First: The China Southern flight lands at Cairns yesterday. Picture: STEWART McLEAN