The first of Qantas’ new daily Melbourne-Tokyo Narita flights takes off today (December 16), joining the Australian carrier’s existing Sydney-Tokyo Haneda and Brisbane-Tokyo Narita flights serving the Japanese capital.

Qantas’ new Melbourne route, which was announced in September, will be serviced by an upgraded two-class Airbus A330-300 featuring the airline’s latest Recaro seat in economy and a lie-flat business suite able to be reclined during take-off and landing.

The service brings the number of seats Qantas offers on Japanese routes to 6,000 per week. Onward connections in Japan are available through the airline’s subsidiary carrier Jetstar, while the inbound flight into Melbourne has been timed to link with the carrier’s domestic network, notably to Hobart, Adelaide and Perth.

“The clear message from our Japanese customers was that they wanted a direct link into Melbourne – so we’re delighted to be opening up that gateway for them today,” said CEO Gareth Evans. “We’ve had a great response from Victorian tourism operators and the many companies in Melbourne who do business with Japan.”

Qantas now serves eight international destinations from Melbourne. Earlier this week, the carrier announced its Melbourne-Los Angeles route would be the first in its network to use its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Details for the new Melbourne-Tokyo Narita service are as follows (all times local):

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
QF79 Melbourne Tokyo Narita 0915 1730 Daily
QF80 Tokyo Narita Melbourne 1900 0730+1

Meanwhile, the carrier also announced it will introduce a Premium Lounge Entry departure experience for passengers flying out of Brisbane Domestic Airport. The facility will be located on Level 1 of the airport and will provide a dedicated check-in area, bag drop, security screening and direct access to the new Qantas Lounge Precinct.

Set to open in line with the airline’s new Brisbane business lounge in early March 2017, the facility will be open seven days a week, one hour prior to the airline’s first departure. Customers flying business as well as Qantas Club members, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One Frequent Flyers and oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members will be able to use the facility. Qantas Valet customers will also receive a new experience with direct terminal access.

“This is about streamlining the overall departure process for our top-tier frequent flyers from the moment they arrive at the airport,” said head of Qantas customer experience, Philip Capps. “Premium Lounge Entry will speed up the process for customers checking in both at the airport or on their mobile – allowing them to move through the terminal quickly and maximise their time relaxing or working in the lounge.”

Qantas also plans to introduce a new Chairman’s Lounge, new look Qantas Club and a lounge precinct in the coming months.