China Southern has commenced year-round nonstop flights between Cairns and its Guangzhou hub.
The Skyteam alliance member and Qantas codeshare partner had previously served Cairns on a seasonal basis, most commonly during the Chinese new year period.
However, the arrival of flight CZ333 operated by Airbus A330-300 B-8358 at about 0745 on Tuesday morning after a seven-and-a-half hour journey from Guanzhou marked the start of year-round scheduled flights to the North Queensland city.
The aircraft was greeted with an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross shortly after landing. After about an hour and 45 minutes on the ground, B-8358 operated the reciprocal CZ334 back to Guanzhou. The service will operate three days a week.
Cairns Airport chief executive Norris Carter said the nonstop service from Guangzhou would allow more overseas visitors to reach North Queensland without having to connect via another Australian port.
“Currently more than 80 per cent of international visitors to Cairns travel via other cities in Australia to get here,” Norris said in a statement.
“This new international flight means that more visitors will be able to fly directly into Cairns and spend more time here enjoying their holiday.”
China Southern regional general manager for Australia and New Zealand said Cairns was the latest destination in the airline’s global expansion.
“Cairns and Tropical North Queensland is well known as a beautiful destination and these new flights will make it easier for Chinese visitors to access the Great Barrier Reef and all natural and man-made attractions in the region,” Lu said in a statement.
China Southern first offered scheduled flights to Cairns in 2013. The airline also serves Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Cairns Airport has international flights from Air New Zealand (sessionally to Auckland), Air Niugini (Papua New Guinea) Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines (Hong Kong), China Eastern (Shanghai), Jetstar (Denpasar, Osaka Kansai and Tokyo Narita), Jin Air (seasonally to Seoul) and Silkair (Singapore).
The airport will shortly welcome another intentional operator, with Hainan Airlines due to commence nonstop flights between Shenzhen and Cairns later in December.
Cairns Airport posted a video of China Southern’s arrival on its Facebook page.