China Eastern eyes Aussie market with more flights, new routes

By David Flynn, October 31 2016
China Eastern eyes Aussie market with more flights, new routes

China Eastern Airways will continue to build its Australian footprint over the coming year to capitalise on the expanded joint venture with Qantas.

And while the SkyTeam member's home port of Shanghai will remain a key focus, much of that growth is expected to come from the raft of secondary cities outside 'the big three' of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

"In the past three to five years we have seen increasing demand from what we call 'second tier cities', even though their population can be as high as 10 million people," explains Kathy Zhang, China Eastern's General Manager Oceania.

"They have enough demand to fly international routes directly, not through Shanghai."

Four new routes on the way

Non-stop flights between Sydney and Hangzhou will begin on November 16, with the route also continuing onwards to Beijing, to complement the existing Sydney-Nanjing-Beijing service.

This will be followed by direct flights between Sydney and Kunming on November 26.

December will see the beginning of year-round Brisbane-Shanghai flights, which have been upgraded from a seasonal service.

The Brisbane-Shanghai flights will initially run four times a week, then toggle to a daily frequency across the peak January-February season before stepping back to a four days a week schedule.

"But sometime later next year it will go to daily and we will keep it daily," Zhang tells Australian Business Traveller over a cup of green tea in her Sydney office.

"In 2017 we will see another new route from Sydney to Xi’an via Wuhan, with both those cities being very important transit cities for people going to the central and western parts of China."

The journey of increased market share...

China Eastern has been flying to Australia for 20 years, beginning with a twice-weekly schedule between Sydney and Shanghai, but Zhang is aware that the airline faces challenges of both competition and culture in building its local market share.

"Even if you have brand new aircraft and the most modern facilities and expensive menus it still takes time for people to accept the new product, it takes time to build market awareness."

And with a solid roster of international airlines flying Australians through to Europe and the UK, Zhang sees that "most of our business will be between Australia and China."

However, travellers who do choose to continue onto Europe with China Eastern can take advantage of the 144 hour 'visa waiver' program for international transit at Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing, which allows a stay of up to six days or nights without a Chinese visa.

Also read: Flying to secondary cities in China: your non-stop options explained


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2014

Total posts 144

I would hope Brisbane-Beijing would be considered, I don't want to sound ungrateful but comparing to SYD/MEL we have half the CX operations with a flight from Brisbane going via Cairns to Hong Kong. I heard that the China Eastern flights departing Brisbane to Shanghai were quite full where operated for the short period over summer.

14 Nov 2015

Total posts 42

What happened to Brisbane-Shenzhen?  That's been talked about for a while too.  Was supposed to start in December.


Air China - Phoenix Miles

20 Dec 2012

Total posts 105

China Southern will fly this route.

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 125

Yeh but is it still going to happen???

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 372

All indications are yes on a daily schedule, but I cannot see it starting until Q1 2017 at the earliest.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 113

I would like to see more China Eastern services to MEL, would love a Hangzhou connection and also Kunming and Wuhan! Also anyone know why they use a Shanghai Airlines plane for the morning service, I use this flight a few times this year and it seems to be the case.

10 Sep 2015

Total posts 5

They need to find some more flight crew first, AKL-PVG flights have been cancelled recently due to the shortage in staff.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 180

The problem with China Eastern I have found is that you may book a code share with Qantas (say on the PVG- MEL route) and end up being put on a shanghai airlines plane. The J class is terrible and you never know what airline you'll get. I always connect either through KL or Sydney with QF

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2014

Total posts 35

Shanghai Airlines only flies MU737/8 as a wet-lease from its parent company..... Partly due to crewing issue as well (All FM's intercontinental A330 flights plus SIN are operated for MU). So long you're not on that flight you're on their own flight


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

When I read the headline, I was almost expecting to see another airline flying ex CBR.  Too much to hope for I suppose

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