Direct flights will begin between WA and China, with a new service to be trialled this month between Shanghai and Perth.
The historic trial began on Wednesday with the first China Eastern plane landing at Perth Airport in the first ever direct flight connecting WA and Shanghai.
The inaugural China Eastern flight from Shanghai to Perth arrived just after 9:40am following a nine hour journey.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia was on board the flight leading a delegation in Shanghai, meeting with travel agents and tourism officials to promote WA.
Under the new trial, flights will run three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Airbus A330s, offering 3,480 seats until February 17.
The seasonal trial marks the peak of the Chinese New Year season, with an average load factor of 80 per cent on flights across the five weeks.
Education Minister Sue Ellery will lead a delegation including representations of the school sector, TAFE Colleges, universities and StudyPerth on the first flight from Perth to Shanghai today.
The delegation will aim to increase WA’s market share of international students and establish WA as a leading provider of international education in the Asian region.
The State Government will work with China Eastern to secure the route as a regular service, with Tourism WA investing an additional $1 million into marketing campaigns, while working with Tourism Australia, China Eastern and travel agents to promote WA as a holiday destination.
Marketing campaigns will be tailored to attract younger Chinese visitors seeking nature, wildlife and local experiences.
China is WA’s biggest market in visitor spend with 66,700 Chinese visitors spending $280 million during their stay in 2018-19.
It was also WA’s fourth largest international visitor market ranked by spend, with holiday spending increasing by 73.2 per cent to $71 billion.
A regular service with China Eastern Airlines could result in an additional $40 in visitor spend.
China Eastern Airlines is one of the biggest airlines in the world and has never flown direct to Perth until now.
Premier Mark McGowan said the direct flights could be a boon to the State.
“Direct flights from key markets such as China are critical to growing the State’s tourism industry, create jobs and boost our economy so it is a great pleasure to welcome the first ever flight from Shanghai to Perth,” Mr McGowan said.
“I first led a delegation to China in 2017 to begin negotiations with China Eastern and following subsequent meetings with the Tourism Minister Paul Papalia, we secured this direct flight.”
“We want this trial service to become a permanent connection between the two cities and we are in ongoing talks with China Eastern Airlines to make this become a reality.”
Mr Papalia said it would encourage new visitors to the state.
“Shanghai has a population of more than 26 million people, which is more than the number of people who live in Australia,” Mr Papalia said.
“Ongoing direct flights between Shanghai and Perth would open up a massive new visitor market and the interest in the trial flights has been encouraging.”
Ms Ellery said direct flights were” a key consideration when deciding to study overseas.”
“This direct connection will allow our Chinese students to return home during their study breaks and encourage family to visit them easily,” she said.
She added that it would help boost students to Perth.
“We also want to deepen our already strong links with China,” Ms Ellery said.