It’s just over four months since Virgin Australia announced it would fly between somewhere in Australia and Beijing at sometime next year, leading to Qantas today announcing it would return to the route with a daily Sydney service from January 25, 2017.
The new service will operate into Beijing Capital International Airport, using an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with return flights timed to connect with Qantas’ extensive domestic and trans-Tasman network. It marks Qantas’ return to the route for the first time since 2009 and makes Beijing the national carrier’s third destination in Greater China, including its existing daily return services to Shanghai and 28 return services a week to Hong Kong.
The new Beijing-Sydney service is part of the expansion of Qantas’ joint venture partnership with China Eastern which will also see three international codeshare routes between Australia and China being added under their strengthened agreement: Sydney-Hangzhou, Sydney-Kunming and Brisbane-Shanghai. China Eastern will codeshare on Qantas’ new Beijing service.
Qantas Group Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the new route – which equated to an additional 3,300 seats a week between Australia and China – would help the airline take advantage of surging travel demand.
“The tourism industry in Australia is very excited about what the Chinese market will deliver over the next few years, especially given it’s already become our second biggest source of visitors after New Zealand,” said Mr Joyce.
When the two Australian carriers trade competitive initiatives the action is usually pretty fast. On this occasion it was a case of slo-mo clobbering, with Qantas taking advantage of its access to more traffic by way of route agreements than Virgin Australia.