China Eastern Airlines has commenced its seasonal service from Shanghai to Perth over the Lunar New Year period.
The first flight from Shanghai Pudong, MU7389, touched down just after 10:30am on Friday aboard the 232-seat A330-200 B-8231. China Eastern will operate three non-stop return services per week, on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, until 18 February.
According to Perth Airport chief operating officer Scott Woodward, the four-week trial route is the result of negotiations in partnership with the state government and Tourism WA. It follows a previous trial route in January 2020, which was cancelled due to the onset of COVID-19.
“Fresh produce, business and leisure tourism are all key export focus areas and a direct link between Shanghai and Perth will undoubtedly further connect Western Australia and benefit the entire economy,” he said.
“It also offers great potential for both tourism and business in Western Australia and we look forward to building a strong partnership with China Eastern Airlines to ensure the trial’s success and hopefully see the airline operate a year-round service at Perth Airport in the future.
“As well as providing Western Australians with the chance to experience Shanghai, Perth Airport, in partnership with the State Government and Tourism WA, is working hard to build the profile of Perth and Western Australia as a destination for Chinese visitors.”
Announcing the service in November, then-acting CEO Kate Holsgrove said the pandemic and lack of direct flights to mainland China had been a major blow to WA’s Chinese tourism market, which fell to 19,000 visitors and $78 million in expenditure in 2023.
“Back in 2019, Western Australia catered for 67,000 Chinese visitors who spent $283 million in our economy – including our important tourism and retail businesses,” Holsgrove said.
“If we can further grow the number of visitors to WA, the flow-on benefits for tourism operators, hotels, hospitality and retail outlets could be enormous. A direct aviation connection to China offers great potential for both tourism and business in Western Australia.”
There are currently no other direct services from Perth to mainland China, though Cathay Pacific has increased its Hong Kong route from three to five flights per week.