Chinese flights on cards
Top End tourism industry hopeful of Guangzhou bid
CHINA Southern Airlines has re-emerged as the front runner to start a direct flight service to Darwin.
Industry sources say discussions are focusing on a triangle that takes in Darwin, Cairns and the Gold Coast.
China Southern will operate three flights a week from Guangzhou to Cairns from December. The services will be able to carry up to 33,000 passengers a year. The new Cairns route serves as an additional connection to Australia for Londoners, with flights departing Heathrow for Guangzhou twice daily.
The industry source said if negotiations for Territory China Southern services were successful then the Territory would similarly benefit from the London service.
Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss confirmed she would be visiting Guangzhou in December for meetings with airlines.
“We aim to attract 30,000 Chinese visitors a year to the Territory by 2020 and our ongoing efforts to attract direct Chinese flights will help to ensure we achieve that target,” she said.
“We are having ongoing negotiations with a number of airlines to attract direct flights from China.
“Both myself and the Chief Minister have met with senior executives from various airlines. Officers from my Department of Tourism and Culture are in regular contact with airlines.
“In August, we hosted a marketing delegation from a Chinese airline and discussions are ongoing with this air- line. The delegation was impressed with the progress Northern Territory tourism operators had made to become China ready.
“A visit by another Chinese airline is currently in the planning stages for later this year.”
China’s Donghai Airlines, which recently launched its first international route from its home base Shenzhen to Thailand, has also expressed interest in Darwin.