Air China goes daily on Melbourne flights to Beijing, Shanghai

By Chris Chamberlin , January 27 2015
Air China goes daily on Melbourne flights to Beijing, Shanghai

Air China is ramping up its flights between Melbourne and Beijing with the launch of a new, non-stop service four times each week from June – giving the airline at least one flight each day between Victoria and either Beijing or Shanghai.

Running on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from June 1 and slated to become daily from October 25, CA166 pushes back at 8:40pm in Melbourne to reach Beijing’s Capital Airport at 6:30am the following morning.

On the return, CA165 departs at 2am on the same calendar days before landing in Melbourne at 3:30pm that afternoon.

The current CA178/177 services from Melbourne to Beijing via Shanghai, running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, will instead terminate in Shanghai from the same date.

Passengers can then connect to Beijing as they currently do by catching an onward Air China flight, albeit with a different flight number.

"China is our number one long-haul market and in 2014 alone, passengers between Australia and China grew by more than 20 per cent," said Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Woodruff.

"The new service means travellers will no longer have to travel through Shanghai, providing more choice and more convenience."

Whichever flight you choose, you’ll be travelling on a twin-aisle Airbus A330-200 aircraft with lie-flat beds, individual AC power outlets and either a 12.1” or a 15.1” personal AVOD entertainment system in business class, configured in a 2-2-2 layout:

Or if you’re stuck in economy, you’ll have 32 inches from headrest to headrest, with one AC power outlet shared between every two seats and a personal 9” inflight entertainment screen in the seatback ahead of you – set in a 2-4-2 arrangement and reducing to 2-3-2 towards the rear.

As a Star Alliance airline, Virgin Australia frequent flyers can earn Velocity points on Air China flights by first crediting their miles to Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer scheme and then converting them into Velocity points.

Also read: Air China brings first class, Boeing 777-300ER to Sydney

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 582

It may just be me, but I'd find it very creepy to wake up to a flight attendant tucking me in (as pictured), or even witness them doing it for another passenger.

But otherwise good news about additional services.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1221

I've always felt the same way about SQ's ads as well.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Sep 2014

Total posts 21

It's just you. Ever have a mom?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 712

For spotters, MEL must the world capital of A330 operations.  Apart from a few 777s and 787s they dominate int'l ops between MEL and Asia.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 116

You know what this means! More Star Alliance award availability! :)

MEL now has non-stop flights to CAN, PVG, PEK and CTU in Mainland China, hopefully the network grows further in the future! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

That's a horrendous departure time ex-PEK, and arriving in MEL that late in the afternoon doesn't leave much time for anything beyond checking into a hotel and having a few drinks.

That said, the long overnight MEL-PEK sector looks ideal. With a 2040 departure it's possible to finish the day (at work, school or the pub) before heading out to the airport. It's also perfect for sleeping; with a flight time of 11h50m, there's enough time for dinner and breakfast while still getting at least 7h30m of sleep.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2012

Total posts 43

Come on CA, pull your finger out and start BNE services.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Ah AusBT, you solved a riddle for me. I saw this Star Alliance painted aircraft (pictured) taking off the other day from MEL, while my aircraft was waiting for taxi, and wondering whose metal was that. Now I know. Thanks AusBT :-)

Lufthansa - Miles & More

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 185

Good to see air china expanding around the globe but that 2am departure wouldnt do that even if it was the last ever flight to melbourne.

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 31

Big fan of this news. The CA166 flight is much better for connections to other cities in China than the old CA178. With CA178, one would be lucky to connect to the last train on the Beijing Airpoirt Express, let alone any domestic flight connection. For this reason, I've flown SQ (3-4 flights daily) exclusively when flying China to Australia. Hopefully, the demand grows enough that it will become a daily service in the near future.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

I think SQ will remain very competitive, considering you can take SQ208 MEL-SIN in the evening arriving just after midnight to connect to the SQ800 SIN-PEK redeye.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

Also, you can come back on the SQ801 PEK-SIN redeye connecting to the dead-early SQ207 SIN-MEL that gets you back in Melbourne in the mid-evening.

Of course, it requires connections barely longer than the 45-minute MCT, but that's why Changi is awesome.

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 31

Agreed that SQ will still be a major player on the PEK-MEL route. But at least now there's another realistic *A option that's worth looking at. The forced overnight in PEK just made the old CA schedule so unappealing. I really used to like the old SQ803 that departed at 1:15 am because you could easily connect to it (I live in Harbin). Sadly it got dropped when SQ put the A380 on the PEK route. SQ800 has a great arrival time but they really need to upgrade the plane from the very old 772s that they use on that flight at the moment.

Also, it seems that there isn't much of an arangement between SQ and CA for connecting flights. I for example can't seem to book a HRB-MEL (or indeed any flight from HRB) flight on the SQ website even though CA and ZH both fly to HRB and are both *A. Bit of a nusiance.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

Agreed that the China connections could be better for SQ. I'm actually holding out hope that MI will be able to launch more nonstops when they get the 737 MAX.


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