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First direct China Southern flight from China arrives in Perth.
The West Australian First direct China Southern flight from China arrives in Perth.

Doubts surround the future of direct flights between Perth and China, with passengers unable to book with China Southern Airlines beyond March.

Travel agents in Perth have been in limbo on the future of the three-times-a-week services since late last month when the airline blocked out flights.

Repeated attempts by _The Weekend West _over the past fortnight to get clarification on the status of flights were met with silence until yesterday when the airline said that "no final decision has been made in relation to the Perth market at this point".

But airline added: "Australia is one of China Southern's most important overseas destinations, and we attach great importance to all markets in Australia."

_The Weekend West _understands that though traffic out of China has been good, demand from passengers in WA has been soft. Flights booked in Australia offer more profit for the airline.

It is also understood the airline is looking at adjusting its schedules to better suit travel to Europe by cutting the transit time spent at the airline's Guangzhou hub.

Tourism Minister Kim Hames said yesterday he hoped the flights would continue.

"China Southern's direct flights from China to WA helped bolster tourism to WA from this lucrative growing market," Dr Hames said.

"We have asked China Southern what its intentions regarding the route are and we are waiting on further advice.

"I am committed to supporting direct flights from China to WA and we've done joint marketing with China Southern to attract more overseas visitors to our State."

In August, the State Government threw its financial support behind an unprecedented $9 million push to attract more Chinese tourists.

Tourism WA contributed $1 million to the strategy, which has WA's "extraordinary experiences" promoted throughout China.

WA attracts 24,000 Chinese tourists a year and is looking to quadruple that figure by 2020.

Only 4.5 per cent of Chinese who come to Australia visit WA.

China Southern also launched services to Cairns this year - its fifth Australian destination.

The airline has talked up its plans to treble services to Australia within five years.