China Eastern Airlines cuts back on Australian flights

China Eastern is scaling back its Australian flights throughout 2020, affecting routes from Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane.

By Chris C., January 30 2020
China Eastern Airlines cuts back on Australian flights

Qantas partner China Eastern will cut back on flights between Australia and China, affecting services from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

However, the reductions are not related to the coronavirus. The changes were finalised before the recent outbreak and reflect a broader reshuffling of China Eastern's fleet and the shape of its network. 

The recent opening of Beijing’s Daxing Airport has seen an increased number of twin-aisle planes needed to serve new routes from the sprawling airport.

At the same time, with the airline's fleet of 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets having been grounded, there's a shortage of domestic and short-range international aircraft – leading to a measured draw-down of other routes for a seven-month period.

Flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Shanghai will be trimmed from March through to October 2020. The airline is also suspending its Sydney-Hangzhou flights, launched in late 2016.

These join China Eastern’s Sydney-Wuhan-Xi’an route, which is currently on hold until late March in response to the lockdown of Wuhan and the broader threat of the novel coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in China’s Hubei province.

Here’s a rundown of China Eastern’s Australian timetable between now and the end of 2020:


Normal service

Revised service

Impacted dates

Affected flights


14 weekly flights (double-daily)

10 weekly flights

March 28 to October 24 2020



3 weekly flights

Route suspended

March 8 2020 onwards



14 weekly flights (double-daily)

10 weekly flights

March 3 to October 25 2020



7 weekly flights (daily)

4 weekly flights

March 29 to October 24 2020



3 weekly flights

Currently suspended

Service resumes March 29 2020


Other routes, including Sydney to Nanjing, Beijing and Kunming, as well as Auckland-Shanghai, are unaffected by these changes.

Passengers with future travel bookings on one of the affected flight numbers above should use the ‘manage booking’ tool on the airline’s website to confirm whether their departure is affected, and if so, should contact the airline or their travel agent to discuss alternatives.

Separately, Qantas is also considering an early exit from the Sydney-Beijing route due to weakened travel demand to China in light of the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports. Qantas previously planned to withdraw from Beijing in March 2020.

Read: Qantas pulls the plug on Sydney-Beijing flights

Through its Smartraveller service, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade currently suggests that Australians “reconsider their need to travel” to China, with a warning of “do not travel” applying to the Hubei province in which Wuhan is situated.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 251

Highly doubt the trial of China Eastern airlines service to Perth will continue then! Bad timing with the outbreak and shortage of aircraft.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 May 2017

Total posts 14

Good luck using the manage booking tool on their website, I suggest trying the call centre at a very obscure time


17 Jan 2018

Total posts 85

The 2nd largest economy in the world and the fastest growing touris sector cutting back flights across the board. Tourism Australia need to do some serious soul searching.

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