Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Donghai Airlines to revolutionise NT visitor economy - China Flights announced today

Chief Minister, Michael Gunner announced today the first-ever flights from China. Donghai Airlines will start the direct non-stop service from Shenzhen from Wednesday 30 May 2018.

Mr Gunner said the new service would bring thousands of new Chinese visitors to the Territory, and has the potential to pump around $32 million into the economy each year, once the route reaches three flights per week at 80 per cent capacity.

“We have worked incredibly hard to bring this new route to fruition, with forecasts suggesting a potential $32 million increase in visitor expenditure adding significant value to the local economy in Darwin and across the NT,” Mr Gunner said.

“Donghai’s direct Shenzhen to Darwin service will provide a significant economic injection into our tourism, retail and hospitality sectors, which will create jobs as well as open up exciting new business and trade links.

“We know that travellers from China spend more on average than other visitors so it is an important and lucrative market.

“We are already attracting 18,000 Chinese visitors annually and this new direct flight will allow us to meet, and well and truly exceed, our target of 30,000 visitors from China by 2020.

“Shenzhen, with a population of more than 14 million people, is considered China’s ‘Silicon Valley’, so there is also enormous potential to establish new business and trade links.”

Donghai Airlines President Yang Jianhong stated the airline will commence services using a new Boeing 737-800, that later will be upgraded to the new B737 MAX 8.

The flights are expected to operate two times per week, flying on Wednesdays and Sundays from Shenzhen to Darwin and return. The flights will arrive into Darwin at 8:40am and depart at 5:25pm.  The departure and return arrival to Shenzhen are timed to connect with other Donghai Airlines services in China.

NT Airports CEO Ian Kew said the new air link between Darwin and China would create over 35,000 airline seats directly into the market.

“Uniquely, Donghai Airlines will be the only airline from China to serve Australia with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, providing a more cost effective and economically efficient aircraft that will enable very competitive fares to be offered,” Mr Kew said.

The Department of Tourism and Culture has been working collaboratively with the local tourism industry towards becoming a China ready destination.  This includes making available small grants to assist industry with translations and other such material.

This year a series of Chinese New Year festivities were held in the Darwin CBD as part of its strategy to demonstrate the proud local Chinese people and culture, and a welcoming environment for Chinese visitors.  The festival will continue and grow next year.

A program was undertaken last year to increase the number of Mandarin speaking tour guides certified to take groups into Kakadu National Park, with a similar program for Uluru-Kata Tjuta being held in May 2018.

Airline tickets will go on sale in China this afternoon for the two times weekly service initially, increasing to a three times weekly service during peak periods and as demand grows. Bookings ex-Darwin will be available by the end of April (subject to airline processes).

 Media Contacts: Cam Angus 0404 021 192
Donghai Airlines -
Janet Jin, International Affairs Specialist. Mobile: +86 13480971079