Qantas will axe its non-stop Sydney-Beijing flights in March 2020, citing weak demand from travellers and increased competition on flights to China.
Although the exact date of the Roo's last service is not yet known, once Qantas exits the Sydney-Beijing route, passengers will instead be directed onto Qantas codeshare flights operated by China Eastern.
"Our flights to Beijing have been underperforming for some time due to weaker demand as well as a big increase in capacity from other airlines," said CEO of Qantas' International division, Tino La Spina.
While China Eastern is a member of the SkyTeam alliance – a rival to Oneworld, which Qantas co-founded – travellers can earn both Qantas Points and status credits when flying with China Eastern on a QF codeshare flight number.
This arrangement will continue after Qantas exits from Beijing, retaining that option of flying from Sydney with a full serve of frequent flyer points and status credits to match, albeit with a detour via another city such as Hangzhou.
Frequent flyer points, although not those all-important status credits which help move travellers through the Silver, Gold and Platinum ranks, can also be earned when flying with China Eastern on its native MU flight numbers.
Jetsetters can also use their Qantas Points to book flights operated by China Eastern, including via the Qantas website.
Flying to Beijing via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific is another alternative for Qantas and Oneworld loyalists, especially if there's also business to be done or meeting to be had in Hong Kong.
"Customers booked to travel on the route beyond March 2020 will be contacted directly and reaccommodated on alternative services or offered a refund/fare credit," Qantas said in a statement.
Sydney-Beijing axed, Sydney-Shanghai remains
Qantas' flights from Sydney to Shanghai are not affected and will continue as normal.
In addition to China Eastern's Sydney-Beijing flights, Qantas also codeshares with China Eastern between Shanghai and Beijing (among other routes), giving the added option of flying Qantas from Sydney to Shanghai, and China Eastern for the shorter domestic flight.
Most recently, Qantas resumed Sydney-Beijing flights in 2017 after an extended hiatus, initially offering angled-flat beds in business class and later upgrading these aircraft to the more modern Business Suites.
This news comes less than a week after Qantas competitor Virgin Australia revealed it would be axing non-stop Melbourne-Hong Kong flights in February 2020, while retaining Sydney-Hong Kong.