Up to 8000 extra seats per week will be made available to both Australian and Chinese airlines, following the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between both countries.
The MOU will enable airlines based in Australia and China to immediately offer up to 18,500 seats per week and from February 2012, 22,500 seats. That will mark an increase of over 50 per cent when compared to the old cap of 14,500 seats per week.
Airlines operating on routes into and out of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth will also be allowed to offer up to 2500 seats per week, subject to those additional flights making stopovers at a regional airport such as Cairns, Broome or Darwin.
Australian carriers will now be able to fly to China via an extra four intermediate points and to operate services beyond China to four more destinations of their choosing.
Announcing the increase in seat numbers on March 8, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese said the value of Chinese tourism to Australia’s economy already exceeds $3.1 billion, a figure likely to grow significantly with the expected doubling in number of Chinese tourists by 2020. “Significantly, our new MOU with China contains a shared commitment to negotiating an ‘open skies’ agreement, an outcome that would remove most – if not all – of the limitations on Australian and Chinese airlines operating between and beyond our two countries,” Albanese said.
China remains Australia’s fastest growing aviation market, with more than 1.7 million people travelling between Australia and China last year, an increase of 21 per cent on 2009.