China Southern has boosted its presence in the local market with a new Sydney-Shenzhen service that opens a new gateway to Australia from one of China’s stronger economic regions
The inaugural flight, CZ3071, took off a little after 1930 local time in Shenzhen on Wednesday, with the Airbus A330-300 B-6501 touching down just before 0800 in Sydney on Thursday.
The aircraft was on the ground for less than two hours before returning to Shenzhen at about 0945 local time as CZ3072.
China Southern managing director for Australia and New Zealand Louis Lu said Shenzhen was chosen as the airline’s new gateway into Sydney because it was fastest growing city in China, with its residents boasting “strong consumption power”.
“So that means this operation of the flight will bring in more passengers, more tourists and more consumers into Australia,” Lu said during a media conference in Sydney Airport on Thursday morning.
“As an airline China Southern is one of the major builder of the air bridge between Australia and China.”
Shenzhen, located in the Guangdong province and easily accessible from Hong Kong by road and rail, is one of China’s special economic zones and has a population of about 10 million residents.
The city is also a “focus city” for China Southern, which serves about 50 destinations across China and the rest of Asia, as well as the Middle East from Bao’an International Airport. Sydney is the first destination in Oceania to receive non-stop flights from Shenzhen.
However, Shenzhen is not one of the 18 specified airports in China where passport holders from 51 countries, including Australia, can take advantage of the country’s 72-hour transit without visa facility, which allows eligible travellers to have a short stay in China before continuing onto their final destination.
The start of the new three times a week Sydney-Shenzhen service brings to 70 the total number of China Southern flights between Australia/New Zealand and China during peak periods. The SkyTeam alliance member has 53 flights a week to its Australian ports of Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The airline operates to Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand.
“Today is a very meaningful milestone for China Southern,” Lu said.
“China Southern has great confidence in the Australian market and today’s inaugural flight clearly demonstrates our ongoing commitment as we open further gateways and services to China.”
Six carriers from China serve Sydney – Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. Further, Cathay Pacific offers four flights a day between the NSW capital and its Hong Kong hub.
Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather said the new China Southern flights were expected to boost tourism and improve trade links between Australia and China.
“Chinese passengers are our fastest growing and largest inbound visitor market,” Mather said.
On Wednesday, China Southern and Destination NSW signed a partnership agreement designed to promote the new Shenzhen-Sydney route.
The marketing campaign was due to run from January until the end of June.
“This partnership ensures we will be highlighting the best of Sydney and regional NSW to our customs and we look forward to continuing a long and healthy relationship with the NSW government for many years to come,” China Southern sShenzhen branch president Liu Guo Jun said in a statement.
The A330-300 used on the route features 284 seats comprising four in first, 24 in business, 48 in premium economy and 208 in economy.