An agreement signed by the WA government and Asia’s biggest airline, China Southern Airlines, opens WA to the biggest tourism market in the world.
The deal was sealed on 7 May with a grand ceremony in Guangzhou, but it had been in the State Government’s “ideas pipeline” for some time.
The ceremony involved Tourism Minister Kim Hames, Western Australian Airports Corporation CEO Brad Geatches, Tourism WA CEO Stephanie Buckland and China Southern Airlines’ president and CEO Tan Wan Geng.
“The securing of an agreement with China Southern Airlines, one of the world’s great airlines, for direct flights to Perth would give the state’s tourism operators a tremendous boost,” Mr Hames said in a major press conference held for the Perth media.
He added that the agreement provided the world’s biggest tourism market with the one of the best tourist destinations. This would be a positive outcome for the WA tourism sector.
China Southern Airlines has many airports across China including in Guangzhou and Beijing.
The company includes a combined fleet of more than 400 air buses or “Super Jumbos”, which are the world’s largest passenger airliners, carrying 519 passengers each.
The China Southern Airlines’ planes fly from the two major hubs in Beijing and Guangzhou to 121 destinations around the world, with a large domestic network in China and networks to the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
Now the company’s focus will be on Australia.
Before this agreement, China Southern Airlines already had established flying college campuses in Jandakot and Merredin in 1993.
The Jandakot School produces more than 100 officers a year.
The Royal Perth Hospital’s senior medical officer of the psychiatric department, Ming Zhu, said the success of the direct flights would depend on the economy of Australia.
Dr Zhu added that it “would be good for WA” because most Chinese people travelled to the eastern States because of a lack of direct flights to Perth.
He travelled to China two or three times a year for conferences and leisure.
Some 12,000 Chinese visited WA last year, a 32.1 per cent increase from 2009.
Mr Hames said WA attracted only about three per cent of all Chinese visitors to Australia.
The new direct flights will make it easier for mining-related visitors, who are fueling the WA and indeed the national economy at present.