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Final pre-COVID Chinese carrier returns to Sydney

written by Jake Nelson | November 1, 2023

A Sichuan Airlines A330-300 touches down in Sydney. (Image: Sydney Airport)

All eight Chinese carriers that flew into Sydney Airport pre-pandemic have returned with the arrival of Sichuan Airlines.

Sichuan Airlines flight 3U3883 from Chengdu touched down in Sydney on Monday on board an A330-300. With its return, nine airlines including Qantas will offer direct services between Sydney and mainland China, and it is estimated Sydney Airport’s China capacity will be 86 per cent recovered in November.

As of this month, Sydney Airport will have 85 return services to mainland China per week, with Sichuan Airlines the only carrier offering direct flights to Chengdu. The route is recommencing with three weekly return services after being paused in 2020, increasing to five from 19 November.

According to Geoff Culbert, Sydney Airport CEO, the return of Sichuan, which first started services to Sydney in 2013, marks a major milestone in the airport’s post-pandemic recovery.

“The return of Sichuan Airlines comes at a time when capacity to China is nearing pre-COVID levels, something that seemed impossible at the start of the year,” he said.


“We started the year with very few flights from China, but by November we’ll be 86 per cent recovered, with more flights coming online in the coming months.

“The pace at which this market has returned has exceeded our expectations and will play a crucial role in supporting the recovery of tourism, business and student travel and the broader New South Wales economy.”

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.

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