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Qantas drops Sydney–Shanghai route after ‘half-full’ flights

written by Jake Nelson | May 14, 2024

Craig Murray shot this Qantas A330-300, VH-QPI, in Sydney.

Qantas is axing its service between Sydney and Shanghai but will boost flights from Sydney to Singapore and Bengaluru as part of a broader Asian reshuffle.

The Flying Kangaroo will end its Sydney-Shanghai route, which operates five times per week using its A330-300 fleet, from 28 July citing low demand. China Eastern Airlines is currently the only other carrier that flies between Sydney and Shanghai.

“Customers booked to travel on Shanghai flights from 28 July will be contacted and offered a full refund, or they can contact Qantas or their travel agent to discuss rebooking on alternative flights,” the airline said.

“Aircraft used on this route will be redirected to boost flying to other destinations across Asia where there is increasing demand or new tourism opportunities.”

As part of the changes, Qantas will instead increase flights from Sydney to Singapore from 14 to 17 per week starting 11 December, and boost Sydney–Bengaluru from five per week to daily during the peak season, adding more than 12,000 seats on the route for the four months between mid-December 2024 and late March 2025.

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In a media release, Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace said the airline is suspending the Shanghai route, which recommenced in October 2023 after three years, to ensure it has “the right aircraft, on the right routes and at the right time of year to best meet the needs of customers”.

“Since COVID, the demand for travel between Australia and China has not recovered as strongly as expected. In some months, our flights to and from Shanghai have been operating around half full,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve decided to suspend this route and boost flying to other popular destinations with a new route from Brisbane to Manila and additional flights to Singapore and Bengaluru. This will create more choice for our corporate and leisure customers and make it even easier for them to access the places they need to travel to in Asia.

“We’ll continue to maintain a presence in China through our partners and our existing flights to Hong Kong and look to return to Shanghai in the future.”

Qantas and China Eastern Airlines last year walked away from an eight-year joint venture after signals from the ACCC that it would not extend its authorisation on the grounds that the deal would provide the “opportunity and incentive to increase prices”.

In an October statement, Qantas said it and China Eastern had decided to end the partnership despite the “significant benefits for customers and Australian tourism” it had provided.

“The airlines have commenced a process to unwind the joint business over the coming weeks, which includes an end to the coordination of pricing and schedules, and the removal of joint marketing material,” the statement read.

“China Eastern remains an important partner for Qantas. Our codeshare agreement will continue on routes between Australia and China which both airlines don’t operate, offering Qantas Frequent Flyers the opportunity to earn and redeem points on selected China Eastern flights.”

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