“Team Queensland” breaches Great Wall of Chinese tourism

The arrival of the first mainland China airline into Brisbane marks a new highpoint in a partnership between Brisbane Airport and Queensland tourism bodies to attract new airlines and new markets to the state, according to Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO and Managing Director, Julieanne Alroe.

Greeting the first China Southern Airlines flight today, Ms Alroe said the arrival marked the start of an exciting new chapter in the relationship between Queensland and China, which has seen strong tourism and business travel growth which has defied the impacts of the Global Financial Crisis.

“On behalf of the Board and Management of Brisbane Airport Corporation, it is a great pleasure to welcome China Southern to Brisbane Airport. China Southern is China’s largest airline and is a major coup for Queensland,” Ms Alroe said.

“I want to very publicly applaud China Southern for its faith in Brisbane as a key part of its Australian ambitions and I am sure that the airline’s confidence will prove to be visionary and – most importantly – profitable.”

China Southern becomes Brisbane Airport’s 31st airline, flying three times per week departing every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from Guangzhou to Brisbane. Ms Alroe said a direct non-stop connection to mainland China was long overdue, given the huge popularity of Queensland for Chinese visitors and the growing investment partnerships between Australia and China.

“The business case for this service has always been strong, with China now being Queensland’s second largest trading partner. Our team, led by our new General Manager for Airline Business Development, Cam Macphee, has worked very closely with the Australia – China business community in Queensland and importantly with the city and with the Queensland Government, all of whom have been working hard to secure non-stop services for some time.

“Together, we formed the China Aviation Action Group to coordinate and focus our efforts, and this is a great result for what we are proud to call ‘Team Queensland’.

“But this is not just about a deal between an airport and an airline. This will have great benefits to a wide range of stakeholders across the state. Tourism will be a big winner with more than 158,000 Chinese visitors to Queensland last year, up 14% on the previous year despite the GFC, and making China one of Queensland’s largest inbound tourist markets and forecast to grow at double digit rates in the coming years.

“Tourism Queensland has made a major commitment to the China market and I commend them on their efforts that have led us to this great occasion today.

“The beauty of a service such as this is that is a good balance between inbound and outbound demand, with China featuring highly on the list of destinations for Brisbane residents with more than 23,000 making the trip last year,” Ms Alroe said.

She said over three million people lived within two hours drive of Brisbane Airport, which was an important factor when airlines evaluated outbound passengers as well as inbound.

“Brisbane Airport is also unique because it serves 43 domestic destinations, all non-stop, more than any other Australian capital city. That network provides great connection opportunities for international airline passengers at Brisbane.

“I am confident that this is just the start of a great partnership, and I will personally work hard with the Premier and with the City to ensure the service is given every chance to prosper and grow, and our next goal will be to convince China Southern to fly daily to Brisbane within the next two years.”