Brisbane now has direct connections to mainland China for the first time since the pandemic, with the return of China Eastern Airlines.
China Eastern flight MU715 from Shanghai on Wednesday morning, aboard the A330-200 B-5931, was the first service from mainland China to touch down at Brisbane in 1,359 days, marking the beginning of a three-times-per-week non-stop service that will increase to daily from 8 December.
Mainland China was Brisbane’s most valuable overseas travel market prior to COVID-19, and the China Eastern service to Shanghai is predicted to add 181,014 inbound international seats over the next three years.
Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of Brisbane Airport, said the return of direct China flights is a “landmark day” for the state’s tourism industry.
“We are delighted to welcome China Eastern Airlines back to Brisbane and see Shanghai return to BNE’s destination map. Shanghai is China’s largest city and a commercial hub, making it a key city for business and leisure travel,” he said.
“In just 17 days, we’ll see the return of our second Chinese airline. Both services will increase to daily flights from December in time for the peak travel season, so we’re forecasting China will likely regain its spot as Queensland’s number one source for inbound tourism income in 2024. This is big news for Brisbane, the Gold Coast and North Queensland.”
China Southern will also return to Brisbane on 17 November, flying four times return per week between Guangzhou and Brisbane using A350-900s, with daily Guangzhou flights between 8 December and 25 February.
Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe in September celebrated the two Chinese carriers’ return as a victory for the state government and airports’ Attracting Aviation Investment Fund (AAIF).
“The message potential visitors are hearing in China from Tourism and Events Queensland’s (TEQ) tourism marketing is Queensland is good to go,” he said.
“We’re seeing that reflected in strong Queensland holiday bookings from Guangzhou and now new tourism opportunities for visitors to fly direct from China’s biggest city, Shanghai.
“Rekindling Chinese travellers’ love of Queensland’s iconic tourism experiences is critical to TEQ’s industry Blueprint for building an $11 billion international visitor economy by the 2032 Games.”