China Southern Airlines (CSA) has returned to Brisbane for the first time in almost four years, reconnecting Queensland with China’s key Southern gateway of Guangzhou.

Flight CZ381 was full when it touched down 30 minutes early at Brisbane airport (BNE) last week and departed with 13,000 kilograms of exports including Queensland mangoes.

China’s largest carrier will initially operate four flights a week to Brisbane and will increase the service to daily flights from 8 December to cater for peak season demand.

China was the largest international market for Queensland pre-pandemic, accounting for almost one in five international visitors and generating A$1.6 billion in overnight visitor spending in 2019.

According to Brisbane airport, over the next three years, China Southern has the potential to bring in 277,896 visitors, generating approximately A$440 million for the visitor economy and supporting 1,790 Queensland jobs.

“Not only do we celebrate the return of China Southern Airlines, but with it, the very first direct group arrivals from China into Queensland since the pandemic. It is the group travel market and their itineraries that will deliver large numbers of tourists from China into this state’s regions including the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and of course the Great Barrier Reef is a huge magnet,” said Gert-Jan de Graaff, chief executive officer of BNE.

China Southern reconnects Queensland with 169 cities in 39 countries who fly direct to Guangzhou’s international aviation hub, making this a strategic aviation service for recovery.

Guangzhou is the 28th international destination now serviced directly from Brisbane airport.

China Southern is operating its latest, most-modern widebody aircraft to Brisbane, the Airbus A350-900.

The aircraft features 334 seats in a dual-class configuration, seating 28 in business class across a 1-2-1 layout and 306 in economy class in a 3-3-3 setup.