Direct flights from Perth to Shanghai could be trialled as early as October next year, as the next phase of the Western Australian state government’s China tourism push takes shape.
Premier Mark McGowan jointly announced with Tourism Minister Paul Papalia that fruitful discussions had taken place with China Eastern Airlines on the government’s recently concluded delegation to China.
China Eastern operates direct services to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and in 2016 shuffled 569,235 passengers between those cities and China, according to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
Globally, China Eastern is the world’s seventh-largest airline.
Mr McGowan said China Eastern chairman Liu Shaoyong expressed confidence in WA as a growth market.
“This meeting was aimed at strengthening our relationship with China Eastern Airlines to work towards getting direct flights between Perth and Shanghai,” Mr McGowan said.
“Our discussions were extremely positive, and I'm thrilled at the prospect of having direct flights, and what it will do for WA's economy.
“The chairman explained that once trial flights became a reality, a commercial analysis by the company would be completed before a final decision is made for ongoing flights.
“I personally guaranteed the chairman, I would be on the first China Eastern flight out of Perth.”
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said direct flights would be a real game changer for Perth and its tourism industry.
For more insight into the state government’s China tourism strategy, read this special report from our November print edition.