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China Eastern adds first trans-Tasman route

written by Jake Nelson | November 7, 2023

The first China Eastern A330-200 service from Auckland arrives at Sydney Airport in November 2023. (Image: Kurt Ams/Sydney Airport)

China Eastern Airlines is adding two new routes from Sydney to mainland China, including one with a connection to New Zealand.

The airline has restarted flights between Hangzhou and Sydney, with an additional leg from Sydney to Auckland as of Monday. Additionally, starting 28 November, China Eastern will fly three return services per week between Sydney and Jinan, in China’s Shandong province.

The Hangzhou service is the first time China Eastern has flown trans-Tasman, and the new Jinan route will be the first direct connection between the city and Australia. The airport estimates that Chinese capacity will be 97 per cent recovered by Christmas.

According to Geoff Culbert, Sydney Airport CEO, by the end of November there will be nine airlines flying direct between Sydney and mainland China, with 85 weekly return services to 14 Chinese cities. This follows the return of Sichuan Airlines in late October.

“It’s hard to believe seat capacity to China will be close to fully recovered by Christmas, considering we started the year with just four return flights a week,” he said.


“That’s a remarkable turnaround and will have a significant flow-on on effect to our tourism sector, not just in New South Wales, but across Australia.

“I was in Shanghai on the weekend for the Prime Minister’s visit, and the excitement was palpable. It’s great to see China Eastern Airlines not just boost capacity into Australia but also adding its first-ever trans-Tasman service.”

Chinese traffic is playing a major role in Sydney’s international recovery, which continues to outstrip its domestic recovery.

New Zealand and Chinese passengers were the two highest foreign nationalities to use the airport in September, with NZ at 99 per cent and China at 78 per cent of pre-COVID-19 figures. Chinese recovery is up from 67 per cent in August.

Air China, Beijing Capital Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Qantas, Sichuan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and Xiamen Airlines all now offer direct flights from Sydney to mainland China.

The news comes as Malaysian carrier AirAsia X suspends its Sydney–Auckland service, which is moving to the Gold Coast.

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