Australian flag carrier Qantas is planning to launch new direct seasonal flights between Sydney and the northern Japanese city of Sapporo.

Qantas says it hopes to meet the “growing demand” from Australians wanting to travel to Sapporo, a ski holiday destination.

To coincide with the peak ski season, Qantas plans to fly three times per week to Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport between December 16, 2019 and March 28, 2020. The flights, which are still subject to government and regulatory approval, will be operated with Qantas’ upgraded Airbus A330 aircraft, offering more than 10,000 seats on the route over this period.

Qantas will be the first airline to fly direct between Sydney and Sapporo and the service will be its fifth route between Australia and Japan. The airline also flies from Sydney to Tokyo (Haneda) and Osaka, Melbourne to Tokyo (Narita), and Brisbane to Tokyo (Narita). Jetstar, Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary, also flies from Cairns to Tokyo (Narita) and Osaka, and from Gold Coast to Tokyo (Narita).

“These new flights make it easier for Australians to reach Hokkaido’s popular ski resorts like Niseko and Rusutsu,” said Qantas International acting CEO Naren Kumar.

“The number of Australians travelling to Japan has more than doubled over the past five years, with almost 500,000 Australians visiting Japan in the last 12 months alone. We expect Japan’s popularity to continue with the country hosting a number of major international sporting events in the next two years.”

Kumar added that domestic connections with Jetstar Japan, a subsidiary of Qantas, will “also open up new options for customers who want to travel beyond the Hokkaido region for both business and leisure”.

“In the past two years we’ve expanded our network by adding two new destinations in Japan to meet this growing demand: a year-round service to Osaka, and now seasonal services to Sapporo. We’ll continue to look for opportunities to meet customer demand,” Kumar said.

Qantas also hopes the new service will drive tourism by creating a new option for travellers from the Hokkaido region to experience summer in Australia. Qantas said it will be working with the Hokkaido Government to promote the new service to travellers from across Australia and Japan.