China Southern Airlines is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to Cairns.

The three times a week service will travel via Guangzhou from December 13 this year and aims to open up north Queensland to UK passengers.

It departs Heathrow twice daily, with connections to Cairns leaving Guangzhou on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Fares start from £578 return, including taxes.

“Opening up Far North Queensland to British travellers not only gives them the opportunity to explore the vast country further but also makes getting from the North to the South of Australia even more accessible” says Nick Newman, commercial manager for China Southern Airlines, UK & Ireland.

He added: “We already operate flights to the core four destinations along the East Coast, so by adding Cairns to our portfolio, we can give passengers scope to discover the entire East side without having to track back across covered ground.”

Cairns is China Southern Airlines’ fifth addition to its Australian portfolio, with existing routes flying to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Based in Guangzhou, China Southern Airlines has the largest fleet of any airline in China, operating both the A380 and B787 (Dreamliner) aircraft.

It is a member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance.