Freight exports of premium Victorian food and fibre products are set to soar, with Air China announcing it will increase services to include daily direct flights to China.
Commencing on 25 October 2015, the new flights will provide a significant boost to Victoria's tourism and export sectors by significantly increasing the number of available seats directly to and from China, which is the state's number one tourism market and biggest trading partner.
In the year ending June 2015, Victoria welcomed more than 439,000 Chinese visitors, representing a year-on-year increase of more than 23 per cent and contributing A$1.76 billion to the state's economy.
Over the past five years to March 2015, the growth in the number of flights between China and Melbourne has also led to a 220 per cent increase in direct air freight to and from China. Around 80 per cent of freight moved through Melbourne Airport goes out on passenger aircraft.
China is Victoria's largest food and fibre export market, accounting for A$2.7 billion of exports in 2013-14, including A$369 million of dairy, A$361 million of meat, A$289 million of grains and A$233 million of forest products. The two markets have had a long history of business to business participation, with trade increasing by 47 per cent over the past five years, especially in key Victorian exports of wool and dairy.
Victorian food and fibre exports to China more than doubled over the last decade with further opportunities expected as demand for imported food and fibre from China's growing middle class continues to grow.
Victoria upholds a high global reputation in food safety, with a strong regulatory framework in place that ensures its produce is consistently fresh and safe for consumption. Improved access via increased freight services will mean China is able to take advantage of Victoria's high quality produce with quicker delivery of fresh milk, fresh juice, and a speedier processes for the testing of baby formula by Chinese authorities.
"These new daily flights between Melbourne and Beijing will create opportunities for both our tourism sector and Victorian producers," said the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews.
"Victoria leads the nation as Australia's largest exporter of food and fibre products and our state will reap the benefits of China's accelerating demand for premium high-end products."
Air China will establish a new office at Melbourne Airport to handle additional flights and cargo. The airline also operates a four-times per week service between Shanghai and Melbourne.