ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has flown to China with former Liberal opposition leader Brendan Smyth, in a bid to woo a major Chinese airline to set up direct flights to Canberra.
Mr Barr and the controversially appointed Mr Smyth are travelling with a political staffer, two Canberra Airport staffers and a public servant from the ACT government's tourism bureau Visit Canberra on the trip, which will cost about $25,000.
It comes in the wake of Singapore Airlines' decision to cancel direct flights between Canberra and New Zealand last year, despite maintaining Changi-Canberra flights, while Qatar Airways started flights last year between Doha and Canberra.
Opposition Leader Alistair Coe also recently went to China to meet with local government officials.
Mr Barr and the delegation left on Sunday, heading to Guangzhou and Beijing to meet with China Southern Airline and Chinese local government staff. They were also due to take part in broader business-related meetings, though Mr Barr's spokeswoman would not mention other business figures they were meeting with.
The Chief Minister will meet the vice-governor of Guangdong, hospitality companies, the Hong Kong Productivity Council and Australia's chamber of commerce in Hong Kong, AustCham Hong Kong.
The week-long trip will also include meetings with representatives of Baiyun International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport and China's Civil Aviation Administration.
Mr Barr will also meet Beijing mayor Chen Jining, in relation to the 20th anniversary of Canberra's sister-city agreement with the Chinese capital.
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