The new Air Services Agreement immediately removes all capacity restrictions on airlines flying to and from Chinese cities, according to Sydney Airport.
Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather said the announcement reflected the growing importance of Chinese visitors to the Australian economy and the strong relationship between Australia and China.
“We’re delighted this new agreement recognises the huge potential of the Chinese market to Australia’s tourism and trade,” Ms Mather said.
“Our airline partners have expressed strong interest in the potential for new services from China, building on our recent growth and our position as a world leader in Chinese long-haul routes.
“This decision delivers expanded bilateral capacity ahead of demand, maximising the value to the visitor economy.”
Ms Mather said the significant growth of Chinese routes since the last increase in air rights in January 2015 highlighted the impact such an agreement could have.
“We’ve announced six new routes from China to Sydney Airport in 2016 alone, and from January next year we will be serving a total of 14 routes from Chinese cities,” Ms Mather said.
“This announcement is extremely well timed in advance of the upcoming busy Lunar New Year period and is such a positive initiative ahead of the Australia-China Year of Tourism 2017.
“Congratulations to both the Australian and Chinese governments for negotiating such a ground breaking agreement.”
Ms Mather said Sydney Airport would continue to work closely with Destination NSW, Tourism Australia and the broader tourism industry to capture new routes and services following the agreement.
From January 2017 Sydney Airport will have seven airlines serving 14 Chinese cities. Chinese passengers make up 15 per cent of foreign resident passengers and are the largest group of foreign inbound passengers.
Chinese tourists are expected to spend $9 billion per year in Australia by 2020.
Sydney Airport has implemented a range of China ready initiatives to welcome Chinese passengers, including Mandarin speaking Airport Ambassadors, signage and information available in simplified Chinese, support of events such as Lunar New Year, and appropriate retail, food and beverage offerings.