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Melbourne’s China recovery continues as seventh carrier returns

written by Jake Nelson | July 3, 2023

A Hainan Airlines A330 touches down in Melbourne. (Image: Melbourne Airport)

A seventh Chinese airline has resumed flights into Melbourne Airport in a sign of the market’s continued recovery.

Hainan Airlines has restarted twice-weekly Airbus A330 return services between Melbourne and Haikou, meaning almost all eight of the mainland Chinese carriers that operated to Melbourne before COVID-19 have come back to the airport. The flights will expand capacity between Melbourne and China by more than 1200 seats per week.

According to Jim Parashos, Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation, the resumption of Hainan services to Melbourne is another step in rebuilding Victoria’s biggest pre-pandemic inbound market, which saw $3.4 billion in spending in 2019, or 38.3 per cent of all international overnight visitor spend in the state.

“One of the current barriers to a full recovery is the lack of group travel from China, but we are hopeful of a resumption in the coming months, so the additional capacity that Hainan brings will be essential for the inevitable future growth in the demand,” said Parashos.

“Less than six months after China’s border reopened, Chinese passport holders now represent the third largest group of foreign travellers at Melbourne Airport, behind only New Zealand and India.


“To maximise Victoria’s recovery, we have been working hard to build up other international markets, and reflecting that, last month the number of Indian passengers was up 125 per cent on the same time in 2019.”

The news comes not long after Melbourne set a post-pandemic record for aircraft movements in May, with international traffic doubling year-on-year and reaching 87.6 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The month saw 3,784 international flights, compared with 1,780 in May 2022, carrying 744,868 passengers – 87.6 per cent of the 2019 figure and 103 per cent of May 2022.

Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines also offer flights between Melbourne and mainland China.

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