Qantas will start direct flights between Sydney and Beijing from January 25 2017, resuming a route which the airline axed in 2009.
The daily service will run on an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, although this will be one of the two remaining members of the A330 fleet which are not being upgraded to the newest Business Suites.
Instead, passengers at the pointy end will have to make do with the angled beds and 2-2-2 seating layout of the older Skybed I business class (below).
In the A330-200's favour, at least for Qantas, is that its significant cargo capacity will allow the airline to support the growing amount of fresh milk, produce, seafood and other freight which it already flies into China.
QF107 will depart Sydney at 1.50pm daily, to reach Beijing's sprawling Capital International Airport at 10.40pm.
The return leg QF108 will be wheels up from Beijing at 12.15am for a 2.55pm touchdown into Sydney.
Qantas says the return flights are timed to connect with the airline's "extensive domestic and trans-Tasman network" to spur onwards flights by the surging Chinese travel market.
Gold, Platinum perks
As part of the expanded Qantas-China Eastern joint venture, Platinum and Gold members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme will be admitted to China Eastern lounges throughout China when flying on China Eastern, as well as international lounges for flights between Mainland China and Australia.
A flash of the card will also ensure priority check-in and priority boarding, equivalent to the Sky Priority 'red carpet' treatment for China Eastern's business class passengers, top-tier frequent flyers and other SkyTeam member airlines.
Beijing boost for business travellers
"Beijing is the largest destination for Australian corporate travellers which Qantas currently doesn’t serve,” said Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans, who said the new service underscores the Flying Kangaroo’s dedication to on Asian market.
“Almost 50% of our capacity is focussed on Asia, and Beijing will be the eighth destination served directly with a daily service out of Australia."
Chinese business travellers shouldn't be discounted, adds Kathy Zhang, China Eastern's General Manager Oceania.
"We are seeing an increase in Chinese business travellers flying back and forth between China and Australia" Zhang told Australian Business Traveller.
"They have for a long time been visiting Australia for the mining industry but in recent years are getting more interested in services like education, construction and property investment, and also agriculture."
Qantas closed both its Sydney-Beijing and Melbourne-Shanghai services in early 2009, while stepping up Sydney-Shanghai to a daily service.
The airline has since relied on a codeshare Sydney-Beijing route with partner China Eastern Airlines which makes a stopover at the eastern city of Nanjing, near Shanghai.
Virgin Australia also intends to fly to Beijing by mid-2017 as part of its new alliance with HNA Aviation Group, however the challenger has not revealed from which Australian city the flights would originate.
Qantas will also expand its joint venture with China Eastern to codeshare on the Chinese airline's Sydney-Hangzhou, Sydney-Kunming and Brisbane-Shanghai services.
[An earlier version of this article cited the Sydney-Beijing A330s as being fitted with the Qantas Business Suite, which was incorrect]
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