Air China launches Sydney-Chengdu flights, Melbourne-Shenzhen to follow

By Chris C., August 25 2016
Air China launches Sydney-Chengdu flights, Melbourne-Shenzhen to follow

Air China is set to significantly expand its presence in Australian skies with the launch of direct flights to Shenzhen and Chengdu later this year.

A new Sydney-Chengdu route starting November 12, 2016 will complement the airline’s existing Australian flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

With an urban population exceeding 10 million – larger than New York City – Chengdu is a powerhouse of the finance industry and home to branches of over 260 of the globe’s Fortune 500 companies.

Air China will link Sydney to Chengdu with three flights per week using an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, fitted with 30 flatbed seats in business class across five rows in a 2-2-2 layout:

AusBT review: Air China A330 business class, Melbourne-Shanghai

Air China flight CA430 will leave Sydney at 2.35pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays to reach Chengdu at 10.35pm the same evening; on the return, CA429 pushes back at 10.55pm on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, arriving into Sydney at 12.35pm the following day.

Also on the cards is are Melbourne-Shenzhen flights to link Australia to this showcase ‘Special Economic Zone’, one of China's leading commercial and financial hubs.

Airline schedules indicate the flights will run four days a week on Airbus A330-200, with services starting before the year is out.

Fly flat in business class aboard Air China's Airbus A330s...
Fly flat in business class aboard Air China's Airbus A330s...

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, CA768 would leave the Victorian capital at 10pm for an early morning touchdown of 4:50am in Shenzhen, with CA767 wheels-up at 11:30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in China ahead of a 12:15pm next-day arrival in Melbourne.

Flights between Australia and China are rapidly expanding with XiamenAir kicking off a Melbourne-Xiamen route, Hainan Airlines planning Sydney-Xi'an and Sydney-Changsha flights and Beijing Capital Airlines set to fly Melbourne-Qingdao-Shenyang from later this year.

Better-known China Eastern Airlines will also begin daily Brisbane-Shanghai flights from December this year after a successful trial last summer, with China Southern Airlines now flying from Sydney to Shenzhen four times each week.

Our home-grown airlines are also eager to tap the Chinese market: Qantas recently strengthened its China Eastern partnership and Virgin Australia is planning flights to Beijing and also Hong Kong as part of a new alliance with HNA Group.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 123

Qantas really need to step up their game with more frequency and destinations to China.... The rising middle class in China love Australian brands and love the quality that comes with it.... Don't worry about the code share Qantas metal is what's needed on these routes with China code share

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621

"The rising middle class in China love Australian brands and love the quality that comes with it...."

Partially true but not the whole picture.  The rising middle class int'l travellers in China also love airline brands that are rated SkyTrax 5* and love the quality that comes with it......little Hainan, an unknown quantity to most Australian air travellers, just happen to be 1 of those 8 airline brands.

VA now has a strong Chinese partner not really in terms of outright size(CA, MU and CZ are far far larger) but more in terms of quality pax experiences.

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 85

Hard to believe that with all the inbound tourism plus business travel between Oz and China, QANTAS only does SYD-PVG, plus 3 HKG routes

I would have thought MEL-PVG and SYD/MEL-PEK at an absolute minimum. Maybe they can put some of the Dreamliners on those routes when they finally show up.....

20 Apr 2014

Total posts 93

the rising middle class do not travel in business (air travel is seen akin to bus travel, something to save money on).

Qantas clearly have done the numbers and know this - they can't make even Beijing work for them (or Jetstar) so doubtful anything will change soon given their hands are tied with their codeshare partners.

03 Aug 2015

Total posts 58

Melbourne should get Changsha & Xi'an soon too, both routes approved for Hainan Airlines 

And Qantas must start more services to China, passenger numbers are growing in the double digits and every international Chinese airline is flying here yet Qantas serves what 1 route? 

Qantas must start with Melbourne to Shanghai  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 97

VA, Hainan, Capital and now AirChina. Does Melbounrne have enough PAX to China to fill the seats, if, say, the airport can handle so many new flights?

03 Aug 2015

Total posts 58

The vast majority of pax on these flights are Chinese tourists, and they have got to get back, they have a population now the size of America who now want to travel so the demand is there. 

Also an ever increasing Business market, to places like Shenzhen, the world hub of technology. 

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621

I bet you every cent/penny in my pocket that all these new flights planned recently between China and AU, including those to/fm MEL, are almost exclusively about inbound demand to AU.

It's not about whether "Melbounrne have enough PAX to China..".  For middle-class Chinese urbanites, Melbourne is 1 of the most affordable AND accessible(e.g. tourist visa) wine region capitals in the world.  I estimate probably half of all annual AU wine export ended up being consumed in China alone.

Think rising inbound demand to AU from Japan in the 80s/90s and then multiply that volume @ peak by 10x....that's what we've been seeing and will continue to see in the China-AU mkt.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 112

Exactly! The demand is mostly inbound, even though there are efforts to boost transfer traffic (like CZ's Canron route), the market is largely inbound leisure and business traffic from Mainland China to MEL and SYD. MEL is actually quite fortunate to be so well known with the Chinese and thus may surprise some how many flights it is getting and the attention from China's carriers. If only that could be said with other international markets!

It's funny how MEL is getting connected to all these Mainland Chinese cities, yet still no ICN. I hope to see ICN back on the map as I used that route quite often.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 97

I dunno.. Victoria to me is not a place full of excitements. You can tell when you see a lot of travellers gathering around the railway station and take pictures... Melbourne was designed and built as a wonderful place for living, but not for sightseeing as a traveller -- especially when you don't enjoy too much the cultural events around the city. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 112

One of the draws for the Chinese tourists is to see "the worlds most livable city" believe it or not its actually a draw card for them. So yes, they are even looking at the living aspect of Melbourne! Maybe something other tourists don't look for but we have seen stranger things such as an unknown English town with pretty much nothing on offer getting bombarded with bus loads of Chinese tourists.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2014

Total posts 72

Flight times are shocking...

22 Jun 2016

Total posts 16

So FLX, does this mean that the fun in the sun surfers and reef divers come to Qld; the shop to you drop go to N.S.W; and the Alco's head for the cheap wine in Vic? 


31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621

"...the fun in the sun surfers and reef divers come to Qld;"

Don't forget that they are in Qld also for the array of world renowned theme parks.

"..the shop to you drop go to N.S.W;"

Some of them visit N.S.W. also to seek real estate investment opportunities around Sydney region.

"Alco's head for the cheap wine in Vic?"

Also pretty good quality by world std and especially by mainland China wine mkt std....the quality of some labels being sold there fm other nations, including China's own, is simply appalling.

Turkish Airlines - Miles & Smiles

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 265

Only time will tell that PER will be the Direct VA route.

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 125

It is highly unlikely that Perth would get a route to PVG or HKG. Cathay already have a strong presence on the PER-HKG route and I think VA would favour BNE over PER for the PVG.


Air China - Phoenix Miles

20 Dec 2012

Total posts 105

MU is planning PVG-PER by the end of this year.


09 Aug 2014

Total posts 8

At this point, I think the Chinese carriers are trying to get whatever is available as it's one route one airline.  It's part of the reason why CZ doesn't fly PEK to SYD or CA on CAN to SYD.  Are these secondary routes being subsidized? Perhaps? Will it make money? We shall see.

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