UPDATE: Direct Melbourne–Beijing flights on Air China will commence service from June 1, 2015, operating four times weekly. This will increase to a daily service as of October 25, 2015.
China's 2–0 loss to the Socceroos in Brisbane overnight has done little to diminish international relations.
While thousands of Chinese football fans flocked to Brisbane Stadium for the AFC Asian Cup quarter-final, Australia has opened the floodgates for Chinese travellers.
Australia is set to see a substantial increase in the number of seats on flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to the nation's main hubs over the next two years.
There will be an initial 18 per cent increase of 4,000 weekly seats on Australian and Chinese airlines, with an additional 7,000 weekly seats to be phased in between now and October 2016.
Part of the expansion will see the only direct Melbourne–Beijing flight launched from June 1, serviced by Air China four times a week.
Additional carriers such as Hainan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have also expressed an interest in launching services – none of which currently operate in Australia.
Currently, the only flight offered by an Australian carrier to China is a daily Qantas service between Sydney and Shanghai, with Chinese carriers such as Air China, China Eastern and China Southern making up the bulk of direct services.
Qantas has reportedly applied for regulatory approval regarding an alliance with China Eastern for further Australia–China flights.
“Last year, 100 million Chinese travelled abroad and this is set to double to some 200 million by 2020," said Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb.
"Tripling aviation capacity from China into Australia over the next two years will ensure we are well placed to capture our share of this growth.
"This agreement – along with the launch of the recent pilot program for online visa applications by Chinese visitors – means our tourism sector is well primed for 2015," he said.
China is Australia's most profitable inbound tourism market when it comes to expenditure. In 2013–14, some 760,000 Chinese visitors spent close to $5 billion in Australia. By arrival numbers, China is only surpassed by our neighbours in New Zealand.
The massive economic potential has seen tourism bodies such as Tourism Australia and Tourism & Events Queensland specifically target their offerings to the People's Republic.
In the meantime, perhaps China will take some Australian inspiration from Tim Cahill's acrobatic bicycle-kick goal, even if it did cost them a spot in the Asian Cup semi-finals.