Jetstar will offer non-stop flights from Australia to China for the first time from September when the low-cost carrier begins service between the Gold Coast and Wuhan.
The twice-weekly service kicks off on September 29 and will be operated by Jetstar’s 335-seat Boeing 787-8 fleet on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Jetstar says the route is supported by Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group, which will help sell seats and travel packages to Chinese tourists looking to visit Australia.
Demand is likely to be driven by inbound travel to Australia, Jetstar said in a statement on Tuesday.
Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said the new service represented about 70,000 seats between China and the Gold Coast a year.
“We’re really pleased to contribute to this unique partnership and it’s a great opportunity for us to build our presence in the Chinese market with the establishment of a direct service from Australia,” Hall said.
Wuhan, which has a population of 10 million, is the capital of the Hubei province, which is situated in central China.
Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer David Collins said the airport had lobbied for the route and worked with Jetstar, the City of Gold Coast, Gold Coast Tourism and Tourism and Events Queensland in an effort to establish the direct flight to China.
“We have known for some time that the demand is there for direct services between Gold Coast and China so we are confident this twice-weekly service will perform strongly,” Collins said in a statement.
“We’ve invested significantly over the last eight years to ensure we are ‘China ready’, from developing a dedicated department focused on this market to ensuring frontline staff in the terminal receive customer service training targeted to the Chinese market.”
Dalian Wanda Group said in a statement it was proud to have helped broker the agreement that led to the start of flights between the Gold Coast and Wuhan through the support of its Hubei Wanda New Airline International Travel Services division.
Also, the conglomerate’s Wanda Ridong (Gold Coast) business is an major investor in a beachfront property development on the Glitter Strip.
“Today’s flights announcement is further evidence of Wanda’s support for the Gold Coast, and our very strong belief in its potential for growth and prosperity,” Wanda Ridong general manager Charlie Li said.
“Wanda is not only helping to shape the future of the Gold Coast, we are helping to ensure people are able to get here as well.”
While this will be the first scheduled service to China from the Gold Coast, the airport has received charter services from China Southern and Cathay Pacific in recent years.
Jetstar said it was increasing the utilisation of its 787-8 fleet – the airline has eight Dreamliners flying now, with a further three to due to arrive by September – to operate new service.
The Qantas-owned Jetstar previously offered one-stop service from Australia to Beijing via Singapore.
Meanwhile, Jetstar Asia currently offers direct flights to three Chinese cities – Haikou, Hangzhou and Shantou – from its Singapore hub.