Trade mission locks in Shanghai to Cairns flights

— 1 Dec, 2023 —

Published Wednesday, 29 November, 2023 at 11:40 AM


Premier and Minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for Tourism, Innovation and Sport and Minister Assisting the Premier on Olympics and Paralympics Sport and Engagement
The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development
Mr Michael Healy

  • Direct seasonal flights from Shanghai to Cairns have been locked in, for the 2024 Chinese New Year period
  • Thousands of Chinese visitors are expected to welcome the Year of the Dragon in Tropical North Queensland

The Premier has locked in a major deal with China Eastern Airlines, following meetings with executives from the carrier on her recent trade mission to China.

China Eastern Airlines will offer direct seasonal flights between Shanghai and Cairns during the busy 2024 Chinese New Year Period.

The deal will provide a bumper boost in tourism jobs, export opportunities and cargo trade for the Far North.

Cairns Airport, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland will launch a tactical trade campaign in the coming weeks to maximise this opportunity for Far North Queensland.

There are 10 flights scheduled to operate between 1 – 18 February, four times a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday).

It is anticipated the services will inject around $3 million into the Cairns visitor economy through the period, bringing about 2,320 inbound seats into the region.

Pre-pandemic, China was Queensland’s largest market by expenditure and visitation, with 497,000 visitors spending $1.61 billion in overnight visitor spend with an average stay of 19.7 days.

Quotes attributable to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk:

“More direct flights to and from Queensland opens the door to more good jobs for Queenslanders and opportunities for produce to be exported.

“As Sister States, this announcement is an important acknowledgement of our commitment to boost trade and tourism between Queensland and Shanghai.

“Locking in these seasonal services directly to Cairns will provide a welcome boost to the region’s visitor economy and open the door to trade opportunities.

“Every flight in leaves full of local produce in its cargo, which means more good jobs for Queenslanders.”

Quotes attributable Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Member for Cairns Michael Healy:

“This is a fantastic vote of confidence in Tropical North Queensland’s tourism industry and the rebuild of our region’s international visitor economy.

“China Eastern will bring thousands direct to Cairns from China’s largest aviation hub to share the Tropical North’s world-class hospitality and iconic visitor experiences.

“There’s strong correlation between more visitors and more good Queensland jobs, that’s why we’ve worked hard to secure holiday flights to Cairns from mainland China.”

Quotes attributable to Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Patricia O’Callaghan:

“Cairns will be thriving as thousands of Chinese tourists bring in the Year of the Dragon in Tropical North Queensland.

“We had worked hard and long to make Queensland a top destination for Chinese New Year holidays, which also fills a traditional quieter time for our industry and I am absolutely delighted to see China Eastern Airlines recognising that demand and putting on these special direct services.

“The strength of Queensland’s aviation support program and our partnerships with industry have been a major factor in locking these flights in and we’ll continue to support China Eastern Airlines with marketing to keep those seats filled.”

Quotes attributable to Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe:

“The Lunar New Year is peak travel season for Chinese visitors and direct China Eastern flights to Cairns recognise pent-up demand for Queensland’s great lifestyle.

“Chinese visitors arriving in Tropical North Queensland to mark the Year of the Dragon are tipped to generate up to $3 million for the local visitor economy.

“These seasonal, Lunar New Year flights are good news for Cairns’ tourism operators with opportunity for more services as global aviation recovers from the pandemic.”

Quotes attributable to Cairns Airport CEO Richard Barker:

“We are delighted to welcome these services to Cairns in 2024, re-establishing a direct service to this key inbound tourism market.

“This will be the first Chinese New Year service since the pandemic, and further illustrates how our industry continues to recover and thrive.

“These services will bring a welcome economic boost to Tropical North Queensland in what is traditionally a softer holiday period.

“We are already seeing Chinese tourists return to our region after the resumption of direct services between China and Brisbane Airport.

“We continue to work collaboratively with our airport and tourism partners to enable easy access to our region and encourage Chinese visitation.”

Quotes attributable to Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen:

“The return of direct flights from China to Cairns is the missing aviation puzzle piece needed for international visitation to rebound bigger and better than it was prior to the pandemic,” he said.

“This will be Tropical North Queensland’s opportunity to demonstrate to China that our destination is ready to welcome their visitors and has the demand to turn the Cairns route into a year-round service.”

Further information:

  • China Eastern Airlines resumed direct flights between Shanghai and Brisbane in October, starting with three flights per week.
  • Daily services to Brisbane will be offered between December and February due to increasing demand over Christmas to Chinese New Year period.
  • The Palaszczuk Government provided support for the services under the $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, which has locked in 26 strategic international connections.
  • The reinstatement of direct China Eastern services between Shanghai and Brisbane is predicted to deliver 181,014 inbound international seats, generate $314 million and support 1,270 good Queensland jobs.


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