HNA Group carrier and Virgin Australia alliance partner Tianjin Airlines has commenced services to a second Australian destination with the start of flights to Sydney.
Flight GS7939, operated by Airbus A330-200 B-8959, landed at Sydney Airport just after 0700 local time on Tuesday, some 11 and a half hours after departing from Zhengzhou.
The aircraft received an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross on its way to the international terminal.
It was on the ground for about two hours before operating the reciprocal GS7940 back to Chongqing.
Tianjin Airlines has scheduled two flights a week to Sydney as part of a Tianjin-Zhengzhou-Sydney-Zhengzhou-Tianjin rotation.
Sydney is its second Australian destination and third in Oceania, having started Tianjin-Chongqing-Auckland flights in December 2016 and Melbourne-Chongqing in October 2017.
The A330-200s used on its Australian and New Zealand routes are configured with 18 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and 242 economy seats at eight abreast.
The Chinese carrier is one of the HNA Group-affiliated carriers alongside Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines that are part of the alliance with Virgin Australia that received approval from competition regulators in June 2017.
As part of the partnership, the airlines planned codeshare on each other’s services between Australia and mainland China and Hong Kong, including flights via New Zealand and on routes within HNA Group airlines’ domestic networks, as well as offer reciprocal benefits to eligible members of the airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
HNA is a major shareholder in Virgin Australia and holds a seat on the board.
Zhengzhou is located in the eastern part of China, about 650km south of the capital Beijing. The fast-growing city has a population of about nine million residents and is regarded as one of China’s industrial hubs.
Jetstar flies nonstop twice weekly between Melbourne and Zhengzhou, with the flights operating almost as scheduled charter services given Chinese travel company China Comfort Travel sold seats and holiday packages directly to Chinese tourists looking to visit Australia.
China is one of Australia’s fastest-growing inbound tourism markets and airlines from China in particular have been adding new nonstop services from both primary and secondary cities to Australia in recent times.
Tianjin Airlines deputy chairman Zhao Guoqiang said the new nonstop flight to Zhengzhou would offer travellers from central China more convenient travel options to Sydney.
“We hope to provide convenient flight services for people from the central part of China to visit Sydney and Australia,” Zhao said in a statement.
“We also expect the people of Sydney to enjoy having direct flight access to Zhengzhou, a beautiful city with an extensive and profound history.”
Tianjin Airlines is the eighth Chinese flag carrier with flights to Sydney alongside Air China, Beijing Capital Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Air.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and Taiwan’s China Airlines also serve Sydney.