QUEENSLAND and China Eastern Airlines have locked in direct seasonal flights from Shanghai to Cairns to boost air cargo and export opportunities for the state’s far north.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk signed the deal with the airline during a “trade mission” to China.

Ten flights scheduled to operate between 1 February and 18 February, four times a week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The seasonal flights align with the 2024 Chinese New Year period, when Chinese visitors are expected to travel to Queensland.  

Ms Palaszczuk said every flight would leave filled with cargo, including local produce.

“More direct flights to and from Queensland opens the door to more good jobs for Queenslanders and opportunities for produce to be exported,” she said.

“As sister states, this announcement is an important acknowledgement of our commitment to boost trade and tourism between Queensland and Shanghai.

“Locking in these seasonal services directly to Cairns will provide a welcome boost to the region’s visitor economy and open the door to trade opportunities.”

Cairns Airport CEO Richard Barker said the services would re-establish a direct connection to a key inbound tourism market.

“These services will bring a welcome economic boost to Tropical North Queensland in what is traditionally a softer holiday period,” he said.

“We are already seeing Chinese tourists return to our region after the resumption of direct services between China and Brisbane Airport.

“We continue to work collaboratively with our airport and tourism partners to enable easy access to our region and encourage Chinese visitation.”

Cairns Airport, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland plan to launch a trade campaign in the coming weeks to maximise this opportunity for Far North Queensland.

Pre-pandemic, China was Queensland’s largest market by expenditure and visitation, according to the state government.

The Queensland government provided support for the services under the $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, which has locked in 26 strategic international connections.