ADDITIONAL flights between Melbourne and China are expected to provide an extra 3650 tonnes of air freight export capacity each year.

China Eastern Airlines is increasing flights to Melbourne from Shanghai Pudong International Airport and introducing new flights out of Nanjing Lukou International Airport from July this year.

The Melbourne to Shanghai route will increase from four to 10 weekly flights, while the new Melbourne to Nanjing route will launch with three weekly flights.

The flights are backed by the Victorian government and Melbourne Airport.

China is the state’s largest trading partner, with two-way merchandise trade in 2023 worth $39 billion. The state government expects the flights to generate $250 million into the state’s economy each year.

“By supporting China Eastern Airlines to deliver extra flights to Victoria, we’re strengthening trade and tourism ties with our biggest trading partner and creating more jobs in our aviation and tourism industries,” minister for jobs and industry Natalie Hutchins said.

Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu Province, which has economic ties with Victoria under the sister-state program.

“Melbourne Airport’s first direct connection to Nanjing will help cement Victoria’s decades-long relationship with its Jiangsui Province sister-state, while also delivering more opportunities for our tourism and export industries,” Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus said.

And China Eastern Airlines general manager marketing and sales Oceania Jim Young said the announcement of new and expanded flights represents a significant moment for the airline.

“We anticipate that the upcoming expansion of flights from Shanghai to Melbourne, coupled with the launch of Melbourne-Nanjing services, will significantly contribute to China Eastern Airlines’ continued growth and stability within the Australian, particularly Victorian, aviation market.”

The Victorian government is also anticipating a boost to jobs and tourism, with an expected 1180 new jobs created by the flights and an extra 100,000 extra seats per year on inbound flights.