Qantas to Scrap Sydney-Shanghai Route as Chinese Carriers Add Flights to Australia
Chen Shanshan
DATE:  May 15 2024
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
Qantas to Scrap Sydney-Shanghai Route as Chinese Carriers Add Flights to Australia Qantas to Scrap Sydney-Shanghai Route as Chinese Carriers Add Flights to Australia

(Yicai) May 15 -- Qantas Airways is halting flights between Sydney and Shanghai from July 28 due to insufficient demand, Australia’s flagship carrier said yesterday, just nine months after the route was restarted after a pause during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Chinese airlines China Eastern Airlines, Xiamen Air as well as Sichuan Airlines are all offering more flights to Australia now than before the pandemic.

“Since Covid, the demand for travel between Australia and China has not recovered as strongly as expected,” said Qantas Chief Executive Officer Cam Wallace. Qantas will continue to monitor the Australia-China market closely and return to Shanghai when demand recovers, he added.

Hong Kong will be the only Chinese city with direct flights from Qantas after this.

The planes will be diverted to Qantas' Sydney-Singapore and Brisbane-Singapore routes and the Mascot-based airline will also start a new route between Brisbane and Manila from Oct. 28.

Qantas operated 44 flights between Australia and mainland China last month, accounting for 4.5 percent of all flights between the two nations, according to Flight Master data.

The remaining 95.4 percent of flights were flown by Chinese carriers. China Eastern, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Air ranked in the top three, cumulatively accounting for 70.2 percent of flights.

Before Covid-19, Chinese airlines dominated China-Australia air routes, Lin Zhijie, a civil aviation expert, told Yicai. In 2016, seven Chinese carriers flew to Australia, but Qantas was the only Australian airline with flights to China. This meant that Chinese carriers held 95 percent of the market, while Qantas only had 5 percent.

“But after the pandemic, Chinese carriers added more idle wide-body aircrafts to Australian routes and the gap between the pair further widened,” Lin said.

Chinese airlines are also recovering faster than international ones in terms of air routes between China and Europe as well as between China and the US.

Since the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out in 2022, European carriers that travel to China, Japan and South Korea need to bypass Russian airspace. This is also one of the main reasons why US carriers were not willing to resume flights between China and the US. However, Chinese carriers can still fly over Russia.

Chinese carriers accounted for 70.1 percent of flights on China-Europe routes as of March, with the remainder operated by foreign airlines, according to Manchester-based Flight Master. Before Covid, the ratios were 52.7 percent and 47.3 percent respectively.

In March, the US Department of Transportation capped the number of weekly round-trip flights by Chinese airlines between China and the US to 50 a week. The quota has been fully taken up, while the quota of 35 round-trip flights a week for US airlines is not yet full.

Editor: Kim Taylor

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Keywords:   Airline,Australia,Qantas Airways