Xiamen Airlines has added a second Australian port to its growing route network, with the carrier’s inaugural service to Melbourne touching down on Friday morning.
Flight MF803 landed at Tullamarine at about 0945 local time, after a nine and a half hour journey from Xiamen.
The aircraft, Boeing 787-8 registration B-2761, received an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross as it taxied to the international terminal.
After being on the ground for a little under three hours, the Dreamliner took off for Xiamen as the reciprocal MF804 just before 1230.
The Skyteam alliance member planned to serve Melbourne twice a week. The airline started on the Fuzhou-Sydney route on November 30 2015, while its Xiamen-Sydney service started on December 6. Both its Sydney flights were also operated with Boeing 787-8s, which had 237 seats in a three-class configuration comprising four in first, 18 in business and 215 in economy.
Xiamen, which is 51 per cent owned by China Southern Airlines, is the 30th international airline offering service at Melbourne Tullamarine. It is also the fifth Chinese carrier serving the Victorian capital alongside Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Sichuan Airlines. Separately, Taiwan’s China Airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific also fly to Melbourne.
Further, Beijing Capital Airlines has announced plans to serve Melbourne via a Shenyang–Qingdao–Melbourne three times a week from September with Airbus A330-200 equipment.
Victoria’s acting minister for tourism and major events Philip Dalidakis said the new flights from Xiamen represented a boost for the local economy.
“Ultimately, more international visitors here means more opportunities for our local businesses and jobs,” Dalidakis said in a statement.
The Minister’s statement noted about 532,000 Chinese nationals visited Victoria in the 12 months to March 2016. Further, the statement said Chinese tourists represented a third of all visitor spending in the state, larger than Victoria’s next six markets combined.