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China's biggest private airline...

China's biggest private airline operator to boost Australian tourism

Australia's airline and tourism markets are expecting a boost, as China's biggest airline operator is going ahead with a planned expansion to add more flights.

Partnering together to make this a possibility are HNA Group and Virgin Australia, which will be directing flights through the ever-busy China to Australia route, reports Sky News Australia.

The companies have formed to make what is being referred to as a strategic alliance and the flights are expected to be scheduled from next year onwards.

HNA, as China's largest private flight operator, will also be buying a 13 per cent stake in Australia's second largest airline.

This is believed to be the company's first foray into Australia, in terms of direct investment as opposed to partnership projects.

Sam Dobson, an analyst from Macquarie Equities, feels strongly that the alliance between the airlines will see the kick off of inbound tourism from China.

Unsurprisingly, this would have a massive effect on the Australian visitor figures, as China currently records a population of 1.37 billion.

Sky News Australia mentions that a large proportion of the country are also middle class, with this demographic of the population growing year on year. This is the group of people who are more likely to travel and in fact tend to be the travel audience who journey to Australia, as they have more disposable income and are already a large part of the tourist spending in the country.

Mr Dobson said: "It's a large market; there's expected to be significant demand for many years to come. It's almost like we're starting to scratch the surface, but it is an untapped market."

The partnership largely aims to help Virgin establish a firm presence in China, to catch up to Qantas, which is the main choice for tourists in this market.

Other popular airlines that carry travellers between Australia and China are China Southern, China Eastern, Air China, Qantas and Jetstar - which is a budget airline.

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