China’s largest carriers are wasting no time following its long-awaited January 8 reopening, with the country’s “big three” airlines – Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern – all boosting schedules to Australia.
Star Alliance member Air China was first to make a move on January 10, revealing plans to reconnect Sydney and Melbourne with its Beijing home base thrice-weekly from the start of February.
Melbourne-Beijing flights will begin on February 1, initially running every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday on an Airbus A330. From Sydney, a Boeing 777 service will fire up just two days later, initially flying every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday from February 3.
But that’s just for starters: from March 26, both services will toggle up to a daily frequency.
The Boeing 777 and A330 both offer lie-flat business class beds with a 15” video screen, while the A330 adds 16 premium economy recliners with a 37” pitch.
China Eastern Airlines is set to follow suit, ramping up its A350 Sydney-Shanghai service from thrice-weekly to daily as of Feburary 2, while the Melbourne 787 connection will increase from three to four a week from Feburary 5.
The SkyTeam member’s A350 and 787 business class sports sliding privacy doors and an 18.5” HD screen. Complimentary wifi is an additional perk on both aircraft.
Not far behind, China Southern Airlines will then ramp up its existing daily services between Sydney, Melbourne and hub-city Guangzhou to 10 per week, effective March 26.
Featuring 28 lie-flat Recaro seats – the same found on El Al’s 787 Dreamliner – China Southern’s A350 business class has a 1-2-1 layout, while premium economy has 24 seats in a 2-4-2.
A previous member of the SkyTeam Alliance, from which it withdrew in late 2019, China Southern is widely tipped to join the Oneworld Alliance.
Qantas, which maintained daily flights between Sydney and Shanghai until February 2020, has confirmed to Executive Traveller it has no current plans to return to China at this stage.
As previously reported, Qantas will resume flights to Hong Kong from the end of January; Cathay Pacific is also eager to ramp up flights between Hong Kong and China, with a spokesperson affirming its aim “to increase our passenger capacity to and from the Chinese mainland as much as possible.”
Additional reporting by David Flynn.