Qantas hopes to tap into the growing market for Australia-China travel through the opening of codeshare flights with China Eastern from Sydney and Melbourne to Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing.
Beginning 1 May 2013, Qantas will codeshare on China Eastern’s Melbourne-Shanghai and Sydney-Nanjing-Beijing services, along with China Eastern’s domestic Shanghai-Nanjing flights.
China Eastern also offers onward connections from Shanghai to 10 other major cities within China.
Qantas affirms there will be no changes to its existing daily Sydney-Shanghai service.
“We are building on our strong relationship with China Eastern to support growing corporate travel and tourism between Australia and China" says Andrew Hogg, Qantas International's Manager China.
“The new codeshare arrangements provide Qantas customers with a daily, non-stop connection from Melbourne to the global business hub of Shanghai, alongside Qantas’ established Sydney-Shanghai flights. Qantas customers can also book flights operated by China Eastern from Sydney to Nanjing, China’s second- largest commercial centre, and onwards to Beijing."
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Qantas has recently been criticised for not offering direct flights to Beijing, including a call from former PM and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to boost the number of direct flights between Australia and China.
"The truth is back in 1984 when I first went to China it was easier to fly from Beijing to Sydney with Qantas than it is now," Rudd observed in October last year. "There were direct services then. Now they are routed by Shanghai."
"Surely this expanding Chinese market is big enough for our national carrier to have an aggressive national growth strategy for the world's second largest economy, for the world's about-to-be-largest travelling class of people and one which virtually lies within our own time-zone."
Qantas axed its Sydney-Beijing and Melbourne-Shanghai services in 2009, along with direct flights to Mumbai, on the back of the global financial crisis.
However, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce says that Beijing and Mumbai are on the shortlist for new routes which he expects the airline’s new Boeing 787 fleet to open up from 2016.
“We’re talking about opportunities for us to re-enter Beijing, India and (add) more frequencies to Singapore and Hong Kong” Joyce said, “and we’re working through the numbers on those.”
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