Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines, which is an alliance partner of Qantas, is looking at services to Perth possibly by the end of the year.
The airline’s officials were in Perth recently for discussions for a daily service from Shanghai.
Often called the Paris of the east Shanghai has a rich history of trading and commerce and today is arguably the most vibrant city in China – outside Hong Kong.
China Eastern’s Manager Oceania Kathy Zhang told AirlineRatings.com that the airline “is exploring the possibility of direct flight from Shanghai to Perth, which means it has not been decided yet.”
However, sources at Perth Airport say the likelihood is high that a service will be launched by year end.
China Eastern serves nearly 94 million travellers annually and ranks among the world’s top 5 airlines in terms of passenger transportation volume by the end of 2015.
It is a member of the SkyTeam global alliance, which gives its access to 1052 cities in 177 countries as well as a global network of lounges.
The new service comes after Australia and China signed an “open skies” agreement which removes all capacity restrictions on air services between them.
The landmark bilateral agreement, announced last year removes restrictions on flights to and from Chinese cities to Australia’s major gateways of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth.
Flights to other Australian cities are already unrestricted.
In addition to boosting tourism between the two countries, the arrival of more services by the highly competitive Chinese carriers is likely to be a boon for Australian travellers seeking cheaper fares for travel to and beyond China.
The Australian government, tourism authorities and airlines have made no secret of the importance they attach to fast-growing Chinese tourism, which already brings almost $A9 billion into the country.
Both Virgin Australia and Qantas are moving to capitalise on the boom with new services to mainland China as well as by leveraging their Chinese partnerships.
Qantas, which has China Eastern and China Southern as partners, already flies 35 services a week to Shanghai and Hong Kong, although the latter is covered by a separate bilateral agreement and is not part of the open skies deal.