Sichuan Airlines plans to start its second international route, flying three times weekly between Chengdu and Melbourne and making the second most populous Australian city its hub in the country.
Chengdu, and the Sichuan province of which it is the capital, are both seeing rapid economic growth with surging foreign investment stimulated by the government's desire to develop the western part of the country.
The city is now home to a large number of pharmaceutical, IT, and electronics companies. Multinational corporations with a presence there include Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Siemens and Nokia.
“Sichuan Province is a key growth region in China,” said Chris Woodruff, Melbourne Airport’s chief executive. “Direct flights between Chengdu and Melbourne will lead to stronger tourism, education, business and cultural connections.”
Sichuan Airlines has not yet confirmed when the flights will commence and are awaiting regulatory clearance. The carrier is co-owned by the provincial government and China Southern Airlines. It launched its first international flight, to Vancouver, in June this year.
Melbourne Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport formed a sister partnership earlier this year.