OREANDA-NEWS. Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer, Kerrie Mather, welcomed the new airline and route, saying it would open up direct access to western China from Sydney.

“China is a huge growth market for Sydney Airport and we’re very pleased that passengers will now be able to access western China directly from Sydney,” Ms Mather said.

“This new service will provide more than 50,000 seats per year on the Chengdu- Chongqing-Sydney route.

“Chengdu is an economic, transport and communication hub, with around 14 million residents.

“Chongqing is an important industrial centre for manufacturing and transport, with a population of around 30 million people.

“A direct air link between Chengdu, Chongqing and Sydney will boost both tourism and business to Sydney, New South Wales and Australia.

“Sydney Airport is truly Australia’s gateway to China, with 94 weekly flights to all the major Chinese cities and greater China, increasing to 99 flights per week in the peak season from January to February, in time for Chinese New Year.

“We’ve ensured we’re ready to meet growing demand from our Chinese customers, with Chinese language wayfinding signage, apps and website, Chinese-speaking Red Ambassadors and tailored retail offerings at the airport.”

Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, said, “I welcome this inaugural flight, an extra service on a key route which offers great benefits for passengers from western China to get to Australia’s most popular tourism destination, Sydney. This is another vote of confidence in Sydney as the tourist destination of choice for Chinese visitors.

“China now ranks as the largest international contributor of visitor nights and expenditure in NSW. For the year ending September 2013, a 13.8 per cent increase saw 413,000 visitors to NSW from China, which contributed USD 1.38 billion to the state’s economy.”

Tourism Australia General Manager of Corporate Affairs and Strategy, Karen Halbert, said Chongqing and Chengdu were two of the new cities in China that Tourism Australia extended its marketing presence into in 2013 using money from the government’s Asia Marketing Fund, and as part of its broader China geographic strategy of deepening its marketing footprint into the country’s secondary cities.

“Like Chengdu, Chongqing represents one of China’s fastest emerging secondary cities and has the potential to open up significant new markets for us,” Ms Halbert said.

“We know from our research that there is a huge appetite for travel amongst the new middle classes in China’s second tier cities, but the full potential will only be fully realised by securing better aviation access and, in particular, more direct flights.”

Sichuan Airlines will operate twice weekly flights from Chengdu-Chongqing to Sydney on its Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Sydney Airport now has 94 weekly flights from nine carriers to greater China, with five carriers offering 46 services to mainland Chinese cities including Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai.