China Southern Airlines says its codeshare agreement with Qantas has boosted the number of Chinese tourists travelling to Australia and it is working to expand the partnership between the carriers.
The airline’s senior vice president, marketing, Zhou Junbao, says passenger numbers had increased in the six months since the codeshare agreement was signed.
“We have already witnessed some very positive results. For instance, we have seen an increase in passengers numbers on all our operations,” Mr Zhou told reporters in Guangzhou.
China Southern currently offers 31 weekly flights to Australia, while the codeshare agreement covers 10 domestic routes, such as Sydney to Cairns, and Mr Zhou says the airline plans to increase its exposure to Australia further.
It is working to double the number of domestic routes it offers through Qantas and plans to increase its international capacity.
“The Australian market is of great strategic significance to China Southern Airlines and it is also a very important component of our Canton route,” he said.
“So, in the future, we will definitely consider further increasing the number of flights to Australia.”
However, Mr Zhou said, the airline had no plan to buy a stake in Qantas as part of its growing relationship with the airline.
Qantas’s chief domestic rival, Virgin, counts international carries Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Etihad as its three major shareholders. Qantas argues that has distorted the local market.
Mr Zhou said China Southern carried 220,000 Chinese passengers to Australia in 2013 and expects that number to continue to increase over the next few years.