Mainland airlines add flights to Australia amid festival travel peak
Published: Feb 07, 2024 08:06 PM
Indigenous Australians perform a traditional dance during an Australia Day celebration in Sydney, Australia, Jan 26, 2024. Photo:Xinhua

Indigenous Australians perform a traditional dance during an Australia Day celebration in Sydney, Australia, Jan 26, 2024. Photo:Xinhua

Chinese mainland-based airlines have ramped up flights to Australia amid the Spring Festival travel peak, and the number of two-way flights has recovered to more than 80 percent of the 2019 level, market data showed. 

Flights between the mainland and Australia began to pick up significantly at the end of October 2023.

As of February 6, daily flights between the two countries stood at 47, compared with 58 in the same period of 2019, a recovery of 81 percent, according to data that industry information provider VariFlight sent to the Global Times.

Flights connecting the two markets have rebounded amid improving ties and the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival travel peak.

On Monday, China Eastern Airlines resumed a seasonal route from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Cairns in Australia, the ninth route between the two countries for China Eastern. It will operate from February 1 to 18. 

Currently, China Eastern serves five destinations in Australia - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Cairns.

China Eastern said that its flights to Australia had recovered to 107 percent of the same period in 2019 during the first two months of this year. 

In January, Chinese Eastern restarted a route from Shanghai to Perth, and the carrier said it will increase the frequency of flights serving Shanghai -Sydney during the Spring Festival. 

In November last year, China Southern Airlines resumed flights from Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province to Brisbane, offering four flights a week.

In October last year, Australia's national carrier Qantas resumed flights to Shanghai for the first time in three years.

Flights will operate five days per week with an Airbus A330 aircraft, adding more than 2,500 seats per week between China and Australia, and growing to more than 4,000 seats per week when services increase to daily in late March.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Chinese visitor arrivals surpassed 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels for the first time in July, when Australia welcomed 79,040 visitors. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, China was the most valuable inbound traveler market for the Australian visitor economy.

China is taking more concrete measures to encourage outbound travels such as reducing or removing fees and personal information collection procedures, as well as unilateral visa-free policies for countries such as France and Germany.

China has signed bilateral visa-free policies for various types of passports with 157 countries, and it reached visa simplification agreements with 44 countries as well as bilateral visa-free agreements with 23 countries.

On January 31, VFS Global launched a new joint visa application center, bringing Belgium, Denmark and Malta visa services closer to home for residents in Beijing. 

Dorthe Lange, a deputy head of Mission of the Embassy of Denmark, said that it had seen an increase in visa applications and it also has a good outlook for the coming high season.