Home Editor Picks ‘Not recovered’: Qantas ditches major route

‘Not recovered’: Qantas ditches major route

‘Not recovered’: Qantas ditches major route


Just nine months after launching, Australian airline Qantas has announced the suspension of a major route from Australia into China.

The national carrier, which resumed its Sydney to Shanghai route in October last year after it was axed during Covid, has failed to reach pre-pandemic demand.

As a result, the route will cease from July 28, 2024 with the airline continuing to monitor the Australia-China market. When demand appears to lift, the airline may consider bringing back the route.

“Since Covid, the demand for travel between Australia and China has not recovered as strongly as expected,” Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace said in a statement.

“In some months, our flights to and from Shanghai have been operating around half full. “That’s why we’ve decided to suspend this route and boost flying to other popular destinations with a new route from Brisbane to Manila and additional flights to Singapore and Bengaluru. Mr Wallace said the move will create more choice for our corporate and leisure customers and make it “even easier” for them to access the places they need to travel to in Asia.

“We’ll continue to maintain a presence in China through our partners and our existing flights to Hong Kong and look to return to Shanghai in the future.”

Customers with booking to Shanghai after July 27 will be contacted and offered a full refund, Qantas says.

According to recent analysis from AMP, while the end of 2022 and into 2023 started to see recovery for Australia’s international travel sector — extensive international border closures compared to the rest of the world along with high inflation lifting airfare and travel costs and logistic challenges related to Covid (like testing requirements) slowed demand from certain markets.

“A shortage of Chinese arrivals since 2020 (which used to make up a decent 15 per cent of

Australian short-term visitors) due to prolonged Covid-19 restrictions has also weighed on tourism in recent years,” the 2023 tourism analysis read.

“China is now reopening its economy and reinstating inbound and outbound tourism which will lead to a pick-up in Chinese arrivals in coming months (although it will take a while

to get Chinese arrivals back to “normal” due to initially limited airline capacity and health concerns about travelling).”

Tourism Australia figures, as reported by The Guardian, show 102,000 Chinese holiday-makers visited Australia in September 2023. Four years earlier, the number was 688,000 in the same month.

According to Trip.com, analysis of Chinese tourism shows a 30 per cent increase to South-East Asia in the first quarter of 2024, compared with 2019 levels — with other holiday highlights being short trips to Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

The airline made several other changes to its Asia network, including a new route from Brisbane to Manila from October this year and also additional flights from Sydney to Singapore and Brisbane to Singapore.

The airline said the Sydney route will jump from 14 to 17 return flights per week from 11 December 2024, while the Brisbane to Singapore route will increase from seven to nine return flights per week from 27 October 2024.

Read related topics:ChinaQantas


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