A China Southern Airlines flight left the Shenzhen airport at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, marking the opening of the second air route to Australia from Shenzhen.
The flight was scheduled to arrive in Melbourne at 6:20 a.m. (local time) Friday. The return flight will leave the Australian city at 8 a.m. and arrive in Shenzhen at 3:35 p.m. the following day.
In June, the flight will operate every Thursday and Saturday. Starting from July, it will operate every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
China Southern Airlines launched intercontinental routes from Shenzhen with flights to Sydney and Dubai in January 2016. At the opening ceremony Thursday, Liu Guojun, general manager with the Shenzhen company of China Southern Airlines said that the route would be complimentary with the one to Sydney and other routes from Guangzhou to Australia and that it would expand the air network influence of Australian cities.
“Half of the mainland travelers to Sydney take flights departing from Shenzhen. The flights to Melbourne will play a similar role by attracting and transporting inland city travelers to Australia,” Liu said.
At the opening ceremony, Andy Jiang, country manager for China of Tourism Australia, said 1.23 million Chinese had visited Australia over the past 12 months, contributing AU$10 billion (US$7.41 million) and accounting for one quarter of total tourism consumption by travelers to Australia.
Among the mainland travelers, 15 percent come from Guangdong and half of them visit Melbourne, the capital of Victoria State and the second largest city in Australia.
The Shenzhen company is now operating 13 international routes from Shenzhen including five routes that were opened since January last year. Liu said that the company will open a route to Moscow this year.
China Southern Airlines had opened seven routes to cities in Oceania, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Auckland, Christchurch and Adelaide by the end of 2016.
With the opening of more international routes, the number of international travelers continues to increase. Between January and April, the Shenzhen airport handled 1.14 million international travelers, an increase of 21.7 percent over the same period last year. The Shenzhen airport is now operating seven intercontinental routes and 29 international routes, according to Luo Yude, general manager with Shenzhen Airport Group Co. Ltd.
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