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Sichuan Airlines makes inaugural flight to Melbourne

Feb 28, 2013

Reaffirming Victoria as Australia’s gateway for the China market, Premier Ted Baillieu today welcomed China’s Sichuan Airlines on its inaugural flight from Chengdu to Melbourne.

Speaking at Melbourne’s International Airport, Mr Baillieu said this was a significant step in positioning Victoria as Australia’s gateway for the China market.

The flights between the two cities will provide an additional 850 seats across three services per week between Melbourne and China.

“I am delighted Sichuan Airlines has chosen Melbourne for its first direct service to Australia, with Melbourne its second long haul international destination after Vancouver,” Mr Baillieu said.

“The presence of Sichuan Airlines in Melbourne is symbolic of the strengthening relationship between Sichuan Province and Victoria.”

Mr Baillieu said Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, was a vibrant and dynamic city.

“We see the development of Chengdu as providing new opportunities for Victorian companies to grow their markets in areas including food and beverage, education, and sustainable urban design,” Mr Baillieu said.

“This growth presents infinite opportunities for deep and lasting engagement between our two regions and securing Sichuan Airlines was a major outcome of the 2012 China Super Trade Mission.”

The Victorian Government’s China Strategy, Engaging China – Strengthening Victoria identifies the Sichuan Province as a strategic priority to focus Victoria’s China engagement activities.

China is Victoria’s largest source of international overnight visitor arrivals, after overtaking New Zealand in the year ending December 2011.

Mr Baillieu said our Chinese visitors held Victoria in high regard, with the tourist market generating $816 million in visitor expenditure in the year ending December 2011.

“Sichuan Airlines’ new flight path to Melbourne offers enormous potential in supporting new links, be they business, education or tourism,” Mr Baillieu said.

CEO of Melbourne International Airport Chris Woodruff said the arrival of Sichuan Airlines to Melbourne was an exciting milestone in the development of Victoria’s aviation connections with China.

“The new service offers people in western China a direct connection to Australia for the first time,” Mr Woodruff said.

“Sichuan Airlines is the fourth airline from China to operate to Melbourne Airport and reflects our successful development of the China market through the attraction of new airline services and our China customer service strategy.”

With the population already at 14.7 million, Chengdu is growing rapidly and its wealth helps to drive economic development and prosperity in Western China.

Media contact: Emily Broadbent 0400 390 008

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