Photographer: Jack Atley/Bloomberg

Qantas Returns to Beijing After 7 Years as Tourism Hits Record

  • Daily Sydney-Beijing flights set to start again on Jan. 25
  • Half of Qantas’s international capacity now on Asian routes

Qantas Airways Ltd. will begin daily flights between Sydney and Beijing next year, returning to the route for the first time since the global financial crisis, as a record number of Chinese tourists visit Australia.

Daily services, code-shared with Chinese partner China Eastern, will start Jan. 25 next year, the Australian airline said in a statement Thursday. Qantas already runs daily return services to Shanghai. 

Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce, whose turnaround plan has delivered record profits for Qantas, is building an Asia-focused network after axing unprofitable routes to Europe. About half of Qantas’s international capacity is now in Asia, up from 30 percent a decade ago.

“The potential is tremendous,” Joyce said in the statement. “The business travel market is another key focus for this route.”

Joyce plans to load up Qantas’s domestic network with many of the arrivals from Beijing by timing touchdowns with departures to other Australian cities. Each Chinese visitor typically takes two or three domestic flights on a visit to Australia, Joyce said in a presentation last year. Qantas controls about two third of the local market.

Helped by a weaker Aussie dollar, Chinese visitors this year overtook New Zealanders as Australia’s No. 1 visitor. Some 1.42 million arrived from China and Hong Kong in the year through August, more than the 1.32 million from New Zealand.

Beijing’s 21 million population alone is almost equal to Australia’s.

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