Budget carrier Jetstar is eyeing the outbound China travel market with the airline now set to launch non-stop flights to Melbourne from Zhengzhou in Central China. Jetstar currently aims to launch the flights in December, though a concrete start date has not been announced.
The new flights will be operated by the airline’s B787 Dreamliner, which it also flies on routes between Australia and Bali, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City (which it launched in May this year), Honolulu, Osaka, Phuket, Singapore and Tokyo Narita. Jetstar’s Dreamliners have two classes with 21 business and 314 economy class seats.
Fares will start from A$566 (US$447) one-way, though the flights are currently not yet available to book on Jetstar’s website.
This will be the first non-stop intercontinental passenger route to Australia from China’s Henan province. According to Jetstar’s Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, “China already accounts for the largest source of tourism in Victoria, and by 2020 it’s predicted that China will overtake New Zealand to be Australia’s largest tourism market.”
The low-cost carrier began operating flights to China eight years ago, and currently operates 68 flights per week from cities across Asia to 20 destinations in China.
Parent company Qantas has similarly been targeting the Chinese market in recent months, both with new routes such as its non-stop Sydney-Beijing service, which it launched in January, to new payment options. These include expanding the acceptance of Unionpay cards, China’s largest payment network provider, and the direct sale of Qantas tickets on e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Fliggy platform.
Meanwhile rival Australian carrier, Virgin Australia, has begun eyeing increased China connectivity, recently launching a frequent-flyer tie-up with Fortune Wings Club, the loyalty programme of Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and Capital Airlines. The airline also aims to begin flights to mainland China in the near future, having recently begun non-stop flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong.