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Chinese airline and SkyTeam alliance member XiamenAir will mark its Australian debut this month with the launch of non-stop flights between Sydney and Fuzhou, jointed shortly after by services between Sydney and Xiamen.
Using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, XiamenAir will offer guests four first class suites in a 1-2-1 layout: extending to 198cm when in bed mode and providing a 15.4-inch touchscreen inflight entertainment system for each passenger…
… 18 fully-flat beds in business class, arranged across three rows in groups of two and with a smaller 14-inch screen…
… and 215 seats in economy with a generous 33 inches of space from headrest to headrest (known as 'pitch'), with the seats in a 3-3-3 layout.
XiamenAir: Australian flight schedule
Sydney-Fuzhou kicks off on November 30 2015 with MF808 wheels-up at midday on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, reaching the Fujian capital at 6:20pm that evening.
On the return, MF807 pushes back at 10:10pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for a 10:30am arrival into Sydney the next morning.
December 6 2015 also marks the launch of non-stop XiamenAir flights from Sydney to its home hub in Xiamen, with MF802 sharing a midday departure from Sydney but on Sundays and Thursdays before touching down in Xiamen at 6pm.
When homeward bound, travellers can depart Xiamen at 10:30pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays aboard flight MF801 to reach Australian soil at 10:30am the following day.
Sydney to China: a growing market
Sydney Airport already boasts non-stop flights to Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Chongqing across airlines Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Qantas and Sichuan Airlines, making Fuzhou and Xiamen the city’s sixth and seventh non-stop destinations in mainland China.
That's atop even more services to the Greater China region from Sydney including both Qantas and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and also China Airlines to Taipei, carrying connecting passengers across the ditch from Auckland and Christchurch.
XiamenAir's non-stop flights to Fuzhou will prove convenient for business travellers with manufacturing ties in the region, while those in the banking and finance sectors are well-placed to access the 600+ financial institutions with offices in Xiamen.
Passengers in business class and first class along with SkyTeam Elite Plus frequent flyers are invited to use the SkyTeam Lounge at Sydney Airport before their departure (below), and to make use of XiamenAir lounges in Fuzhou and Xiamen when returning home.
XiamenAir says it "will not be competing on price, but service" as the routes become established, but is offering return first class fares of A$4,500 and return business class fares of just A$2,000 as part of special promotion to mark the launch.
XiamenAir + SkyTeam: frequent flyer points
While XiamenAir has no Australian airline frequent flyer partner, its SkyTeam alliance membership allows travellers to earn points via any SkyTeam frequent flyer program, including Alitalia which is currently running a handy status match deal.
All you’ll need is a current Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card from a non-SkyTeam airline – including Qantas and Virgin Australia – and a shiny SkyTeam card be yours: offering lounge access, priority check-in and priority boarding on every SkyTeam flight, even when booked in economy.
Australia’s own Jetstar recently launched its own Boeing 787 flights to China with non-stop service to Wuhan from the Gold Coast, while Air China is ramping up its Sydney-Beijing flights from November 16 and also plans to launch first class on its Melbourne services.
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