Melbourne Airport has welcomed its sixth mainland Chinese carrier with the arrival of Beijing Capital Airlines’ inaugural service.
Flight JD461, operated by Airbus A330-200 B-8221, touched down at Tullamarine a little after 0840 on Friday morning, after an 11-hour journey from Qingdao in the Shandong Province on China’s east coast.
The three times a week offering operates on a Shenyang-Qingdao-Melbourne rotation.
The aircraft was scheduled to take off from Melbourne as the reciprocal JD462 at lunchtime.
It departs Melbourne on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, while the reciprocal service from Shenyang is scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Beijing Capital Airlines, part of Virgin Australia shareholder HNA Group’s stable of airlines, joins Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Air offering service to Tullamarine. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and Taiwanese flag carrier China Airlines also serve Melbourne.
And Melbourne will get a seventh mainland Chinese carrier from november when Hainan Airlines, also part of HNA Group, begins flights to Tullamarine from Changsha and Xian.
“It is my great pleasure to welcome the arrival of Beijing Capital Airlines to Australia and to Victoria today,” Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said in a statement on Friday.
“Servicing the cities of Shenyang and Qingdao, Beijing Capital Airlines will provide new and exciting travel destinations for Victoria and also continue to grow our relationship with China, the success of which is evident in the number of passengers that visit our state each year.”
Melbourne Airport said China was its number one visitor market, with 820,000 Chinese residents passing through the airport in the 12 months to July 2016.
“Melbourne has achieved the fastest average growth from Chinese passengers over the past five years of all major Australian airports: 18.6 per cent each year on average,” the airport said.
Further, the airport said the number of Australian residents travelling to China had grown 6.8 per cent a year on average over the past five years.