STARTING today (30 May), the Northern Territory has a new conduit for people and goods to move between Darwin and China, with the touchdown of the first non-stop Donghai Airlines flight between the Top End and Shenzhen.
Following a formal ceremony at the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport with NT tourism minister Lauren Moss, Donghai Airlines chair Huang Chubiao and president Yang Jianhong, the new airline service was welcomed to Darwin International Airport with a traditional water cannon salute.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Northern Territory Airports CEO Ian Kew and the Chung Wah Society Lion Dance Troupe this week welcomed Donghai Airlines president Mr Yang Jianhong to Darwin.
Mr Gunner said this was a milestone moment for Territory tourism and trade.
“In the last calendar year alone trade between China and the Territory totalled $2.06bn – including exports worth $1.93bn – making China our largest international trading partner,” he said.
“The new service will enable stronger trade links to develop between Shenzhen and Darwin.
“The new route is anticipated to bring thousands of new Chinese visitors to the Territory,” Mr Gunner said
“[The service] has the potential to deliver $32 million in new visitor expenditure each year, once the route reaches three flights per week at 80% capacity.”
Northern Territory Airports CEO Ian Kew said the launch of the non-stop air service to Shenzhen would provide immediate economic benefits to Darwin and the Northern Territory.
“These services open up new supply channels for airfreight,” Mr Kew said.
“There will be an expected average of 1.5 tonnes of freight volume available for export/import per flight to tranship time sensitive high value items between the Northern Territory and China; the first flight from Darwin to Shenzhen tonight is carrying agricultural products to supply the Chinese consumer market.”
Flights are currently scheduled to depart and return on Wednesdays and Sundays from Darwin International Airport.