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Beijing Capital Airlines opens up Melbourne–Hangzhou

written by Jake Nelson | April 17, 2024

A Beijing Capital Airlines A330-200, B-8019. (Image: Sydney Airport)

Beijing Capital Airlines is launching a second service from Melbourne to mainland China.

The Chinese low-cost carrier, a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, will begin three weekly A330-200 flights to Hangzhou starting in June, complementing its existing Qingdao service. The new route will make Hangzhou the eighth mainland Chinese destination to see services from Melbourne.

While Melbourne Airport will return to 91 per cent of its pre-pandemic China capacity when the new flights begin, Chinese passport holders travelling to Melbourne continue to languish at just 62 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, said airport CEO Lorie Argus.

“Mainland Chinese travellers have traditionally been one of the highest spending markets; however, the slow return of group travel continues to impact visitation numbers,” Argus said.

“Last year Chinese tourists spent a total of $5.8 billion in Australia, but that’s just 56 per cent of what they spent here in 2019.”


The news comes as Melbourne’s international capacity continues to surge, with the airport earlier this year breaking its previous February record for international passengers.

According to Argus, an average daily international flight is “worth around $154 million to the Victorian economy”.

“We know these flights will help fill our restaurants, support our shops, and give our farmers access to millions more consumers,” she said.

“China is Victoria’s largest two-way trading partner and the number one buyer of Victorian goods with sales topping $6 billion last financial year.

“Australia’s Open Skies policy with China gives airlines the future certainty they need to make investments in Australia. This important new connection into mainland China will help boost trade, tourism and international student growth.”

Melbourne in December became the first Australian airport to exceed pre-pandemic international capacity in a month that saw it break 1 million monthly international passengers for the first time since the pandemic, with the airport also setting a new all-time monthly record for international flights at 4,976.

Argus last year called for increased competition from international carriers, suggesting the federal government should push for “open skies” agreements with more countries, which would allow their airlines to operate as many flights to Australia as they wished.

“Airports are subject to regular monitoring by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and it makes sense that this arrangement be extended across the broader aviation industry,” she said.

“We also believe an open skies approach to bilateral air service agreements will benefit consumers by maximising competition and choice.”

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