Qantas launches Jetstar-operated Melbourne-Beijing flights

By John Walton, July 13 2011
Qantas launches Jetstar-operated Melbourne-Beijing flights


Jetstar will begin a daily Melbourne-Beijing service from November 24, although the flight will involve a stop-over in Singapore rather than be a direct journey.

Qantas will offer the daily service as a codeshare in what's tipped to be the first of many such arrangements using the Red Roo's low-cost sibling rather than Qantas' own planes and people.

The rack rate for 'Star Class' business class tickets on the Airbus A330 will be $999 each way, with economy at $499.

Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan says the new route "represents a critical step in the continued rollout of our Pan Asian strategy" and also talked up the expansion of services from the airline's Singapore hub, which now hosts onwards connections to almost two dozen destinations.

Jetstar also aims to introduce European and US flights from Singapore when the airline takes delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in late 2012.


Qantas is set to recommence regular flights to Beijing flights, but using its low-cost Singapore-based Jetstar Asia franchise.

The announcement will be made today in Beijing by Jetstar's CEO Bruce Buchanan and Jetstar Asia's CEO Chong Phit Liang, according to The Australian's Steve Creedy

Qantas axed its direct Sydney-Beijing (and Shanghai-Melbourne) flights in early 2009, leaving only Sydney-Shanghai on the timetable. This service has suffered from the fact that there's no oneworld alliance airline in China to provide connections from Shanghai to the rest of the country. 

Nor has geography helped Qantas. Airlines based in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have their hubs strategically placed en route to other Chinese destinations -- but business travellers with Qantas who need to visit the Pearl River Delta manufacturing area, for example, have to fly from Sydney to Shanghai and then back down south again.

The Australia-China market has become even more competitive in recent years, with several Chinese airlines flying to and from Australian cities on new planes with full business class offerings.

Jetstar's route map shows the Australian airports that may have potential connection options via Singapore: Darwin, Melbourne or Perth.

But it's hard to believe that business travellers will swap fully flat business class beds on Air China -- or even angled-flat seats on China Southern, Hainan Airlines or China Eastern -- for Jetstar's so-called business class. The new Jetstar business class is just a rebrand of its old Star Class, which is really a Premium Economy seat.

Here's Jetstar's offering:

And here's the competition from Air China:

Is Jetstar's offering too little, too late to make a dent in the Australia-China business class market? And, of course, is this a taste of what we'll see as part of the "strategic renewal of Qantas international" promised by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce?

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

13 Jul 2011

Total posts 3

Has anyone noticed the schedules? The return journey PEK-MEL is 25 hours plus! A 9 hour lay over in SIN. And this is supposed to be remotely attractive to business travellers? Or leisure even? If you going to have to schlep through an Asian port on the way to China, surely there's SQ/MH/TG that would be better alternatives. Otherwise I'm going direct on one of the Chinese companies. That Air China product above looks fantastic compared to the Jetstar offering...essentially Qantas domestic Business seats circa 2003.

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 59

it's a terrible way to go.I am from Adelaide and would choose an SQ OR MH method to Beijing through one of their hubs over this Jetstar Option.Otherwise my other choice would be get the last flight of the day to Melbourne DJ OR QF and get a connecting flight with Cathay Pacific/Dragonair via HKG there or go to Sydney and get Air China.

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 139

What is hard to believe is that Jetstar provides no international services at all from Australia's third-largest city. None.

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