Qantas has again postponed the launch of its Melbourne to Hong Kong service that was due to launch on 26 March.
It follows the Hong Kong Free Press reporting in January that airlines are struggling to increase flights due to staff shortages at the airport, and ground handling companies upping fees.
Executive Traveller reports Qantas is now targeting restarting the service on 20 June. Currently, the route is only served by Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, which operates two to three flights per day.
However, despite poor links to Hong Kong, Melbourne this week welcomed back Beijing Capital Airlines, becoming the sixth carrier to operate flights from the Victorian capital to mainland China.
Flights from Qingdao will operate twice a week in February before increasing to three times a week from March.
“These flights are incredibly important, not just because of the link they provide for Victorians with family in China, but for the direct market access they provide to our cargo exporters,” said the airport’s CEO Lorie Argus.
“To have six mainland Chinese carriers resume flights to Melbourne in just a few weeks is a huge testament to the importance they place on our city and the confidence they have in our market.
“Most international flights into Melbourne have been arriving close to full, which suggests international students are returning alongside tourists and family visitors.
“We’ve worked hard with the Victorian Government to return this capacity to Melbourne, and by the end of March we expect to be back to around 80% of our pre-pandemic seat numbers.”
The other airlines to return are China Southern, China Eastern, Air China, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.
Australian Aviation reported earlier this month how Qantas would expand its international network again by launching a new route between Melbourne and Jakarta on 16 April.
The three-times-weekly service will use the Flying Kangaroo’s wide-body A330s and rival Garuda Indonesia, which currently flies the same route twice a week.
The new service adds to Qantas’s daily flights from Sydney and will increase seats to and from Jakarta by more than 6,600 per month.
Melbourne-Jakarta is the third new international route out of Melbourne to be added to the Flying Kangaroo’s network since borders reopened, following the launch of flights to Delhi and Dallas Fort Worth.
The route from the Victorian capital to Dallas/Fort Worth was the flag carrier’s latest “ultra-long-haul” route using its 787-9s, to add to services from Perth to London and Rome, as well as Sydney-Dallas.
The three-times-weekly service is one of the world’s longest, with the return trip back to Australia scheduled to last more than 17 hours.
It’s also Melbourne’s first non-stop connection to a North American city that’s not on the west coast.