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Direct China flights to return to Brisbane from November

written by Jake Nelson | August 14, 2023

China Southern Airlines has operated the Airbus A350-900 since 2019. (Image: P. Masclet/Airbus)

Flights between Brisbane and mainland China are set to recommence for the first time since COVID-19 border closures came into effect.

China Southern, Asia’s largest airline by fleet size, will fly four times per week between Brisbane and its base in Guangzhou starting on 17 November, using 334-seat Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The service is expected to add almost 278,000 inbound seats between Brisbane and China over three years.

China Southern was in 2010 the first mainland Chinese airline to commence flights to Brisbane, and pre-COVID, carried the most Chinese arrivals into Queensland while being the largest export air-freight carrier from Brisbane to China. Currently, Brisbane’s incoming passenger traffic from China is sitting at just 12 per cent of 2019 levels.

Brisbane Airport chief executive officer Gert-Jan de Graaff, who helped personally negotiate China Southern’s return, said “no single country” has a bigger impact on the Queensland tourism market than China.

“Currently more than half of Queensland’s visitors from China are forced to fly via Sydney or Melbourne and the rest are coming via destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong. Today’s announcement will restore Queensland’s direct connection to our most lucrative market,” he said.


“The timing is perfect with the announcement on Thursday by the Chinese Government that it will allow travel agencies in China to book outbound group travel to Australia.”

Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe has marked China Southern’s return as another victory for the state’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund (AAIF), which is jointly funded by Queensland’s airports and State Government.

“Securing China Southern from Guangzhou is a game changer, and an incredibly important step in rebuilding Queensland’s international visitor economy after the pandemic,” he said.

“China is crucial to Tourism and Events Queensland’s Blueprint for growing an $11 billion international visitor economy on our runway to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The news comes less than a week after Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific announced a 50 per cent increase in flights to Brisbane starting on 1 December.

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